In elementary school, children are beginning to learn how to control emotions, delay gratification and make good decisions on their own. Parents, on the other hand, continue to feel the need to protect their children from feelings of pain or frustration.
By not allowing our kids to fail, however, we may preclude them from learning how to tolerate painful emotions. Children will come to believe that these emotions are to be avoided at all costs, rather than learning that they are, in reality, temporary and tolerable. Parents who allow their children to fail and then respond with loving, caring attention are on the road to creating entitlement-free children, rather than demanding “give it to me now” children.
As they get older, children learn to better control their emotions and predict consequences of their actions. During this time, they also begin to ask about toys, games, etc., that other children have, as well as products they see advertised during their favorite shows. This makes this the prime time to begin explaining the concepts of money, worth, value and earning in order to help children develop an understanding of the difference between want and need.
Establish realistic expectations and help your kids develop a plan for earning and saving for the item they want. Avoid offering big rewards for small tasks, but if you choose to use rewards, then make the task, reward and effort appropriate, which will help them develop the skill of delaying gratification and frustration tolerance because they have to work for what they want.
Teach concepts of money, worth, earning, value, responsibility, saving and economy early in development terms.
For younger kids, use a token economy at home. Discuss the emotional reinforcement your child feels after he completes a task before giving the reward.
For older kids, use allowance to teach them how to buy and save so they can understand the value of money.
Make volunteering a regular part of your home life. Get involved with local family organizations that focus on giving back to the community.
Have regular conversations with your child about the difference between want and need.
Set limits on what you give your kids for holidays, gifts and rewards.
Remember that it is OK for your child to fail, make mistakes and feel disappointment. It is also OK for parents to feel bad for saying no, but it is important to set limits.