Marilyn C., a nanny working in New Hope, PA says, “The child I care for simply has no respect for her valuable possessions because any material possessions she wants [are] given to her. The child has learned that if she asks often enough, she will always receive.”
The nanny continues, “She is eight-years-old and just got her third I-Phone after losing the first two.”
“After not being responsible enough to prove she can care for her expensive phone twice, she [received] a new one and I cannot even afford a cell phone despite working 60-hours a week with a good salary,” says Marilyn.
The nanny admits, “Her parents work hard so they certainly have the right to spend their money on their child. I have no right to be jealous and should be happy for the child that her parents can afford to purchase what she wants. But in this case it is difficult not to worry that the daughter is not learning the value [of] money or to respect her material possessions.”
First, we recommend Marilyn and our readers refer to our listing of age appropriate developmental stages children learn respect. The eight-year-old can definitely be taught to respect her material possessions.
Next, we like advice shared by Lisa HW in an article, Kids’ Demands for Material Possessions.
Lisa HW explains that how much stuff a child has, and how spoiled he is, are two completely separate things. There are traits of a spoiled child. One is that he is demanding, in terms of the way he presents his requests for things. He doesn’t care about any of his parents’ struggles or how hard they work. He just wants the stuff and doesn’t understand why he couldn’t/shouldn’t have what he wants.
The spoiled child will demand, whine, and generally demonstrate unpleasantness when he doesn’t get what he wants. A spoiled child can’t or won’t understand other people’s concerns. He lacks empathy, and he lacks a willingness to even try to understand. A spoiled child feels entitled.
Spoiled children can be children who have little, or they can be children who a an overabundance of stuff.
Teaching children the realities of money and prioritizing, without expecting them to shoulder the burdens of our own financial concerns, can lay a foundation that makes the amount of stuff kids get matter less, when it comes to whether or not they’re spoiled.
Teaching children that special purchases and surprises come to those who most deserve them is also important.
Letting children know that even if we can’t buy what they want right now, we understand that their wish for something is normal and understandable, can let them know we aren’t disregarding them, or seeing them as “always wanting something.”
Helping them to understand that they need to sort out which things they feel are most important, and helping them decide which things are things are needs and others are wants, is also important.
Denise and Mark Weston, the authors of Playwise, explain that to help children develop a sense of appreciation you must not jump to fulfill their every request, need, or personal timetable. In the course of everyday life, many situations present teaching opportunities to accomplish this.
For example, when you are speaking on the telephone, instead of letting the child interrupt you be clear that he will need to wait until you are finished speaking to the person on the telephone. Let them know that your attention is something you choose to give, something of value to be treated with respect. The frustration the child will feel while waiting for you to finish helps develop her sense of appreciation for you and others and what you do for her.
The child whose every need is met without waiting or struggling will not grow to appreciate what others do for her, limiting her to a state of self-centered living.
Certainly do not withhold love and affection, but put a limit on the amount of gift giving and “giving in” you do to teach the child to appreciate these acts of kindness.
Finally, financial expert Suze Orman had some great tips about teaching children financial lessons on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Suze says that saying yes and no to children should never depend on the economy. “It should be dependent upon: ‘What kind of values do you want to raise your children with? Do you always want them to think they’re entitled? Or do you want them to understand the value of a buck?'” she says.
Suze recommends giving a child an allowance for chores or work around the house. Suze calculates that each minute of work is worth roughly 10 cents. It will take about four hours of work to earn the $20 a child wants. Suze says this is a good level to start a child’s wages.
“Now if they do that job efficiently, you can give them a pay raise. If they do not do that job efficiently, … I would actually decrease their salary, so that the kids understand good work equals good pay equals job promotion. Bad work equals getting fired,” she says.
“And when they learn that at 8, 9, 10, now what are we talking about? We have a kid that knows they have to work for something.”Suze says good tasks for a kid are ones that help their parents. “You guys have to decide together what helps you really around the house,” she says.