How to Tame Kids' Wish List Expectations
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
November 22 2011 05:48 PM ET
CREDIT: M-Edge Accessories
Kids are clamoring for expensive gifts at a time when family budgets are as tight as ever. As usual, electronics top the wish lists of many children (and adults), but never before have so many wished for an Apple.
The Apple iPad is the most desired consumer electronic among kids ages 6 to 12 for the 2011 holiday season, with nearly half (44 percent) of kids expressing interest in the product. Two other popular Apple devices — the iPod Touch (30 percent) and iPhone (27 percent) — round out kids’ top three. Nearly one-fourth of teens ages 13 to 18 chose the iPad as their top gift, followed by computers and e-readers. While an e-reader can be had for under $100 (try Amazon’s entry-level Kindle for $80), iPads begin at $500, a price that may not fit into the family budget. What is a parent to do?
"It is very important for children to learn to make choices and prioritize, accept limits, deal with disappointment and appreciate value," Laurie Zelinger, a child therapist in Long Island, told TechNewsDaily. "Acquiescing to the child’s requests in the face of either actual financial stress and/or differing values will possibly encourage feelings of selfishness and a sense of entitlement that will be difficult to break in the future.”
The first step in managing kids’ gift expectations is to share the family budget for gifts and encourage them to make suggestions that fit within the amount. If a child responds with “but that’s the only thing I want!” and it’s out of the budget, consider these alternatives to just saying “no.”
Three alternatives to “no”
- Consider buying one gift that the entire family can enjoy. Items such as a Blu-ray player, a Roku media streaming player and even a tablet that can be plugged into the family’s HDTV can be shared by all.
- Pool resources from friends and family and purchase a group gift. For instance, last month Giftiki launched its group buying service on Facebook in partnership with American Express. Friends are invited to chip in between $1 and $10 toward a gift certificate. With an average of 130 friends per Facebooker, the contributions could go a long way toward an iPad or other coveted gift. Ebay also offers a group gifting program.
- Delaying a gift until money for it can be saved or earned by the child is another alternative, if your child agrees. Holiday and birthday gifts could also be combined. The important thing is to involve your kids in the decision-making process. “Helping them develop the problem solving skills needed to reach their own conclusions in this area is an important part of parenting,” Zelinger said.
Walk your talk
An important piece of advice for parents facing a budget crunch is to lead by example. “Parents need not feel guilty, especially if the child has been made a part of the change, understands the problems and realizes you’re all in it together,” she said. “It might be somewhat hypocritical if adults spend money extravagantly for themselves at the same time they are asking their children to make less expensive choices.”