Teaching Children Less Is More

Between all the toys, gadgets, and gizmos that are available to kids, not to mention television programs, apps, and other resources all geared at kids; it’s almost easy to see how parents begin to view life as being totally about their children. When parents indulge like this—giving their child everything they want physically or emotionally or both— a spoiled child is almost an inevitable conclusion.[1]

Financial pressure is no fun to live with.

Every day a multitude of adults find themselves facing burnout and sense there’s no way out. For some, depression shows up as the family purse strings are stretched ever thinner.

Most of the problems are self-inflicted as parents choose to give their children—and themselves—more and more stuff, mainly bought with credit cards. But is gifting in abundance really a good thing? Not always.

Boys and girls could be learning to expect everything they want will be handed to them and that it’s okay to be really mad when it isn’t. Unless the parenting paradigm shifts, children figure out emotional blackmail pays off.

The Bible tells us not to cause our little ones to sin. Perhaps we need to apply that verse to our spending decisions, and financial training at home. Having too much at a young age can create bigger problems down the road.

What a parent can do to teach children less is more—to dial back the stuff and teach the finer lessons of living with appreciation and contentment?

  1. Be an example. Discuss something the parents want to buy—then choose to do without it.
  2. Speak honestly with children (age 3 and older) in age appropriate ways about family finances.
  3. Admit the stress being felt at home and ask the entire family to help make things better.
  4. Learn to say “No” in kind ways and expect an unhappy child for a while. This, too, will pass.
  5. Offer jobs where money is earned. Ask teens to look for part-time jobs elsewhere.
  6. Inventory toys, electronics, clothes, etc. they now own and that are still usable. It’s not necessary to have the newest upgrade or the popular brand of jeans. I.E. my iPhone 5S works just fine. I do not need the iPhone 7.
  7. What can be sold to either fund the next purchase or be used to pay down credit card debt?
  8. Visit a homeless shelter or food bank and volunteer to help those who have less. This experience can be life-changing.
  9. Reinforce positive changes with rewards. When your child has learned to respect your “No” answer, maturity is growing; now is the right time to make hot fudge sundaes or grant additional screen time.

As the weight of bills eases up and children’s expectations tone down, moods get better. Children learn living with less is a good thing and they’ll hopefully carry that valuable lesson into their adult lives.

Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

[1] Amanda Rock, Avoid Raising a Spoiled Child, 6-27-14, https://www.verywell.com/avoid-raising-a-spoiled-child-2764628