How often have we told our children, “You don’t need it, you just want it.” I tend to think of needs as something necessary for living, such as food and clothing. Everyone has their own definition of what they need to get along in life. Teaching our children the difference between what they need and what they want will help them prosper in life.
My Snazzy Lads know that when I say we are only getting things we need at the store, asking for candy and chips will be met with a “No”. If we are saving up for something special, but they want immediate gratification, usually a simply question is reminder enough to deter them (if temporarily). “Is it a need or a want?”
In this entitled age we live in, we have come to expect fast food in a minute and knowledge and entertainment at our fingertips. Teaching any child how to put aside wants until needs are met can be hard.
Lesson 1: Teach them Self-Control
Before they even begin to handle money, especially their own, boys need to be taught self-control. The best way to teach them is by example. When we go to the grocery store, I try to make sure we all have a snack or meal beforehand. Otherwise, everything on the shelves looks delicious and we end up blowing the grocery budget.
Lesson 2: Teach them to prioritize
My Snazzy Lads get a haircut every 2-3 weeks, or else they start to look shaggy. One of them asked me the other day, “Mom, when are you going to get a haircut?” (It’s been over 6 months since the last one.) I replied that it was on my list of wants since I didn’t absolutely need a haircut. Can I get a haircut every 3 months? Yes, but that $50 can also be put to better use this month.
Lesson 3: Teach them patience
When we began giving our Snazzy Lads an allowance, they wanted to immediately go out and buy something. For the first couple of weeks, they would come home with their dollar toys, which inevitably broke. After the tears, I explained that quality toys cost more, and they might have to save up for a few weeks, instead of spending just to have something new. After a few weeks of reminding them to save their money for a “big” toy, they were finally able to buy something that 1) would last longer, 2) was more fun, and 3) gave them a sense of accomplishment.
Balancing needs and wants is a lifelong, daily lesson we all must struggle with. Start your sons early – repetition is the key to learning.
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