How do you feel about making decisions? What about the amount of times you hear “ Errrr…I dunno” from your kids? Decisions can be difficult for adults to make, and with the amount of times I hear ‘I dunno’ from my kids, decision making is a tricky process for our kids too.
Whether it’s figuring out what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for work or scrolling through the endless possibilities at your favourite online store, decision fatigue can set in very quickly!
We can’t have everything, and so the first part of this episode focuses on evaluating our choices when making decisions. Making decisions can often be frustrating, especially when you have too many options.
It’s one of the reasons I don’t like shopping online, because the options feel endless and I don’t know if the next page is going to have something better. A bit like those slot machines where you keep thinking that the next quarter is going to win you the big prize!
If we need to make a joint decision on something, my husband knows he’ll get a quicker response from me if he’s already narrowed the million options down to about 10.
So try and minimise the number of choices you give your kids and show them how to eliminate certain options themselves. This might help minimise frustration where they give up or get annoyed because they can’t have everything.
During the episode, I go through an example of buying a new backpack. We start with 5 choices, eliminate it down to 3 based on colour preference and further down to 2 choices after considering size. After narrowing down the choices, we then have to make a decision about which one to buy.
I then move on to discussing needs and wants and that when it comes to spending money, it’s important to take care of our needs first and then our wants. This helps us spend our money in a smart way.
I give an example of our bodies needing healthy food to eat like fruits, vegetables and protein. We need healthy food for our bodies to grow. Candy, cakes and ice cream are food too, but those are treats, they aren’t good for our body and so they are wants, not needs.
When I first explained to my 6 year old that he was getting an allowance so he could buy himself some things that he wanted, he was a little worried that he would also have to buy things like new socks and shoes when his don’t fit anymore.
I explained that I would buy him what he needed so that he could buy the things he wanted. He’s not at the stage where he really cares about what brand of sneakers or jeans he’s wearing, but when he starts to want the expensive stuff…we’ll be revisiting that conversation!
So let your kids know that you will take care of their needs, and explain that the main reason you are giving them an allowance, is so that they have the opportunity to learn how to manage their money so they can buy the things they want.
You are giving them a way of choosing what to buy for themselves, which is awesome for them because it means they are actually getting what they want, instead of what you think they want.
They get to look around stores or checkout flyers for things they might want to buy, instead of constantly being told they’d have to wait till their birthday (which feels like an eternity in kid time, even if it’s only a month away!).
Try and think of an example of something you bought for your kid, that they didn’t ask for. You thought they would like it, but they actually had very little interest in it. Explain to them that by giving them an allowance, they can spend that on something they will actually use, eat or play with.
It’s a win win.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve bought something that I thought my kids would love, only to have it shoved to the back of the cupboard and forgotten about within an hour.
There will be things that you don’t want your kid having, even if it’s with their own earned money. If they know about that before heading out, it could avoid disappointment aka a tantrum in the middle of a busy store!
Even though you’ll be approving their purchases, the important thing is that whatever you do let them buy, it will still be something that they choose, they saved up for and they want. Be clear about spending rules before heading out to the shops.
So what’s next?
Options and Decisions
At the end of the episode, I asked the kids to think about some decisions they’ve had to make recently. Like deciding whether to walk or ride their bike to school. Or what they ate for breakfast. Talk about their options and how they made their decision.
Needs vs wants
Helping kids to understand and identify needs vs wants is incredibly important. Think of some examples that your kids can relate to. Things that your kids need in order to survive vs things that they want.
One example I give my kids that they can relate to, is what happened during the last few summers, when we’ve had a lot of wildfires close to where we live. The air quality outside is so bad that there are advisories to stay inside, especially those who suffer from breathing issues.
Both my boys have asthma, so it’s even more crucial that they stay indoors even though they go stir crazy when it lasts more than a few days. They want to go outside and play. They need to stay inside and breathe clean air to avoid a trip to the hospital!
Basic needs and wants game
List some items that you see around the house and ask your kid to identify if it’s a need or a want. You could go a step further and also discuss why they think it’s a need or want. E.g. winter boots are a need because it’s snowing outside and our feet would freeze if we went out in flip flops. Dolls would be a want, because we can survive without them.
I spy needs and wants
Turn a game of I spy into ‘I spy needs and wants’. E.g. I spy a need beginning with the letter C. The answer could be a carrot. It’s a need because it’s healthy for our bodies.
Shopping list needs and wants
If you make a shopping list before heading to the store, ask your kid to take a look and identify the needs and wants.
If you don’t make a list in advance, checkout my free downloadable needs and wants checklist.
Grocery store needs and wants
If your kid goes shopping with you and you don’t make a list, ask them to look in the cart and tell you which items are needs and which are wants. Some might be a bit of both e.g. you need pasta, but you want the colourful pasta instead of the plain pasta.