Just how much can we give our children? Money, clothes, gadgets, toys etc? Is there a limit? This is the question that haunts most parents who fear that maybe they are under or over indulging their children.
Most of us parents naturally want to give our children lots of things because we can afford them or they are easily accessible, or because they can make life, play and learning easier what with the new technology and mobile gadgets. It could also be that we want our children to be happy and to enjoy the things we never had as children, to save them from that awful feeling of lack.
The good news is, we can still do all of this guilt free, here is how to do it just right!
- Earning it
When you give children things they have not in any way earned, you risk raising entitled children who have no sense of responsibility and who take everything in life for granted. Teach children the concept of give and take, work and incentives. Reward them for age appropriate chores done around the house, for example, taking the trash out, hanging laundry, picking up litter, setting the table, bringing in the mail, packing up toys, feeding pets and watering plants etc. Be firm and let them know that they cannot get what they have asked for unless and until they demonstrate good behaviour and look after their environment.
- Make the reward fit the occasion
Remember to make the reward fit the circumstance. Do not over reward for a small chore. This will encourage children to slack off. Keep them motivated, the bigger the achievement, the bigger the reward! Do not under reward either, you risk demotivating them.
- The birthday or holiday excuse
Delay the gift by letting the child know that they will get it on their birthday. This teaches children to be patient and helps build up anticipation for the day thus giving the child something worth waiting for. This is also helpful in that children learn that just because money is available, it does not mean it has to be used, this teaches them to have realistic expectations as well. Have your limits and stick to them. Do not give children everything!
4. Make them convince you
When children approach you with requests, find out what they want to use the item for. Get a sense of how it will be beneficial to them, how much it costs and if they are any cheaper alternatives out there. This teaches them to engage their mind before buying, to do a cost –benefit analysis and to learn to make meaningful comparisons before decision making.
5. Give them more Experiences and more You
Experiences are more fulfilling and memories are forever. Things easily get old, broken or are no longer useful. For example, Children with a lot of toys in their toy boxes can quickly get overwhelmed and bored easily. There is no sense of adventure or excitement anymore as compared to that child with only a few toys. Be with your children more, talk to them more, hug more, laugh more! This way you raise happy and well-rounded children. You can never swap your presence with things.
6. Teach them Values through giving
Teach children how to help others who are disadvantaged. For example sharing school lunch or giving others their old clothes. Sharing and giving teaches them compassion from a young age and it makes them aware of the different realities in life and will make them grateful and appreciative of what they have. Teach them how to save money, to spend a certain amount and keep another portion for the future and to respect and value all their possessions and be honest and accountable all the time.