How to give your child a rich life – without raising entitled kids (Rule 2 of 9)

Rule 2 of 9

Empower kids to create their own abundance.

Too often, out of our own anxiety about money, we shame children when they “want” material things. But the opposite response of giving kids everything they ask for also teaches the wrong lessons. There is a better way—we can empower our child. Consider these three approaches to your child in the toy store when you’re buying a present for her cousin’s birthday, or something for Christmas.

“Don’t even start asking…you know better than that! Don’t you ever get enough? Do you think money grows on trees? You don’t even take care of the things you have!”  

This approach teaches your child that he doesn’t deserve (of course he’s deserving), that he’s greedy for wanting things (all of us want things, all the time) that his parents can’t afford the things he wants (which can lead to a sense of deprivation), and that he is powerless to get what he wants in life (which makes him feel resentful; all those riches lined up on the shelves are for other people but not for him.) The result? Something that looks a lot like entitlement, or at least looking out for number one.

 “I hear you, I hear you—you really want it!….How much is it?….Well…..I guess so…Do you promise you’ll be a good girl all week and really listen?” 

This is bribing your child to cooperate, which always digs you into a hole. But what’s worse is that if we just hand our kids everything they want on a material level, it creates the expectation that they’ll be handed whatever they want in life, especially if they make a fuss, and promises they can’t necessarily keep. She’ll feel great for the moment, since our brains give us a hit of dopamine every time we chase, conquer, acquire. But that purchase will quickly lose its luster and she’ll be craving the next thing. That addicts her to purchasing things (or manipulating others to purchase things for her) as a way to feel good, and it gets her into the habit of acquiring more, more, more without feeling gratitude for what she has, both material and non-material.

“You really want that, I hear you…Wow, that is cool, isn’t it?…It’s not in our plan for today“ (In other words, this is not about a poverty mentality. It’s about priorities) “…I’m sorry, I see how much you like it…Do you want me to put it on your birthday list?…You’re right, your birthday is a long way off….But if you still want it, you can have it then….And you know, if you really want it sooner, you can earn the money…Sure, I can think of some odd jobs that aren’t part of your normal chores…And you’re getting old enough that you could walk the dog for Mrs. Jennings, or mow lawns around your neighbourhood.” 

This child feels empowered. If she really wants this item, she can get it—either now or later. She’s learned that anything she wants is possible, with enough hard work.

Source: Dr Laura Markham