How to Not Cave into Your Kids


The ability for children to say “no” to themselves leads to better self-control when they become adults. In 1968, a study was begun at Stanford that tested children’s ability to defer gratification – or, in other words, to tell themselves “no.” After following the children into adulthood, research revealed that children who were better able to develop strategies for delaying gratification at young ages became more educationally successful and emotionally intelligent later on in life. In order to teach them, it’s important for you to hold your ground.

The population’s inability to say “no” to spending has resulted in a dramatic increase in debt. According to a 2008 report from the American Savings Education Council and the AARP, only 52 percent of young adults born between 1980 and 1988 save money on a regular basis. Additionally, 57 percent have credit card debt. These statistics put young adults in a difficult financial position and can drastically influence their future. It can force them to take jobs they dislike, postpone starting a family, delay owning a home and create stressful financial pressure. Telling your kids no, especially when they are pressuring you for more, will help them be more successful in life. Here’s how to not cave into your kids.

What To Do

  1. Be a role model. Demonstrate to your children that you’re willing to put aside personal wants in order to meet the needs of the family and others.
  2. Exercise discipline. Share with your children your budget plans for saving and spending, to ensure that the family is provided for.
  3. Live on a budget. Know your budget and use it as a guideline for all purchases.

Teach Your Child

  • The difference between needs and wants. Mistaking what we want from what we need has profound consequences.  Needs are items or services that you must have in order to live. Wants are items or services that you would like to have but can live without if necessary.
  • The value of a dollar. Many chores should be done without compensation to teach children the value of serving the family. When possible, however, offer your children the opportunity to earn money. Compensate fairly without over-paying so that the child will begin to understand the value of the dollars they earn.
  • To budget. Even young children can begin to understand the importance of deferred gratification with a simple budget for spending, saving, and giving.
  • To question every purchase. Have them question: Is this item worth the price? How long will it be used? Is there anything else my money would be better spent on?

Develop a Plan for Your Child’s Sharing, Saving, and Spending

Download iMOM’s Share, Save, Spend tool. Give your child three jars (clear jars work best because the child can see the money building up inside). Label one jar Share, one jar Save, and one jar Spend. When your child earns or receives money, place a predetermined percentage in the spending jar, savings jar and giving jar. For example, you might decide that 10% will go in Share, 50% in Save, and  40% will go into Spend. Once you determine the percentages, stick with them consistently.


Tell us! In what creative ways have you taught your kids about money?