All Souls’ Director of Children and Youth Programming, Shannon Boston, shares a few tips she’s picked up through the years.
- Make a Wish List – when kids see something they want on TV or in a store, have them put it on their wish list for their birthday or upcoming special occasion. This is an action of compromise. They will be somewhat satisfied at having their wish listened to and recorded, and you will have a list of things they want when special holidays come around. This also has them benefit of curbing the thought that when they see something they deserve it right away.
- Make a Gratitude List called “Gifts I already Have.” Challenge them to make it at least as long as their Wish List. This can be done verbally as a lovely bedtime ritual.
- Help those with less. Include your children in charitable activities. Fill a wish on the angel tree, make a donation to our Adopted Schools, donate coats this winter, or serve food at a shelter. These actions provide a catalyst for discussion about people with real needs, rather than just wants. It also gives children a say in how they can help and how the family spends its resources.
Members of the All Souls Unitarian Universalists Parents weigh in with more been-there-done-that wisdom:
Talk about those less fortunate than ourselves and how we can help them. Even with my 3 year old, I think this helps her learn about the world around her.
My kids get an allowance, and they use it for anything outside the necessities. They buy their own toys, music, expensive clothes, etc. If they want an expensive pair of shoes or clothing, I kick in whatever I would normally kick in ($30 for shoes for example) and they make up the rest with their allowance. My son bought a computer that way last Christmas – I put in $300 (what I normally spend on Christmas) and he put in $250 from allowance. I think it helps them to appreciate what things cost. They also know not to beg for things or feel entitled to them, because they know what the rules are.
Allowances have the potential to teach many life skills, as well as delayed gratification. Kids learn to manage money, work within a budget, keep track of their money, and more.
I’ve seen lots of different guidelines about allowances. We give our kids $1 per year of age per week. Their allowances are to be used for social events, small desires, and larger long-term wants.
We have our girls decide how much of their allowance they want to have and how much they want to deposit in their savings accounts for a future, larger expense.
At age 13, we gave them each a debit card and started crediting the card with their allowances so that they’d learn to manage a card. More than once they’ve wanted to go to a movie or to a coffee shop with a friend, but not had enough money on the card to do so. Because we have a strict rule not to advance them any allowance, they’ve had to figure out how to earn the extra cash or do without.
Shannon Shirley Boston
Spending the weekend camping with our church’s Camp Fire club has offered a lesson for all in realizing what we take for granted: hot water, comfy bed, electric lights, to name but a few.
Simi Burn Bassett
We don’t have TV at home which limits exposure to advertising aimed at kids.