Parenting

Why We Don’t Give Our Kids What They Want | But We Give Them What They Need

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Do you always give kids what they want?

Middle-class parents often work hard to give their children the life that they missed while growing up. They aim to be able to give everything, including the luxuries that were withheld from them. But is this really wise?

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Christmas is a time when we usually splurge and give kids what they want. We have 13th month pay after all. But is it really wise?

Raising Happy Children

Last time, I wrote about my desire to raise happy children, taking the extra effort to put a smile on their faces. We would like to see them enjoy their childhood through play, travel, as well as many other happy experiences. It may include but not limited to buying them toys, clothes, accessories, and other collectibles.

But in our young family, we have made it a practice that the kids do not get everything that they want. This has been instilled to them since they were toddlers. With Shawna, it has not been much of a problem. With Shane, things can get a bit more challenging.

The LOL Surprise

Shawna and Shane learned about the toy called LOL Surprise through an unboxing video on YouTube. For several months, Shane had been saving for it but when December came, she still only gathered PhP8. She knew that it costs hundreds of pesos so she did not really bug us to buy it.

We are not sure how, but she realized the she can actually earn by singing Christmas carols. She sang “Thank You, Ang Babait Ninyo“, which was her performance task for their Filipino subject at Bright Kids Preschool, to every grown up that she meets.

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Shane went caroling to every grown up friend or relative that we met during the Christmas season in order to “earn money” to what the toy that she “wants”.

Here is a video of Shane singing a Filipino Christmas carol during our family reunion at Cana Retreat.

After gathering PhP250, Shane said that she needs to earn some more because what she wanted to buy was the limited edition toy. We just let her because we didn’t want to ruin her diskarte.

The Toys R Us Visit

When Shane’s money reached PhP395, we decided to visit the mall. Papa reminded her of the concept of “Earn. Save. Spend. Donate.” that they learned from the series Cha-ching. He explained in simple terms how the P395 should be applied on the concept:

  • 10% goes to savings (this savings is for the future and is on top of saving for what she wanted to buy)
  • 10% goes to charity or our help fund

Shane got excited because she already did the earn part and she was about to do the other two parts. But then she also got excited about the spending. Uh-oh. Papa had to convince her that the spending is not really something that NEEDS to be done. The spend part is about using money on things we need.

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Shane contented herself with a photo of the LOL Surprise toy that she really wanted to buy. We DIDN’T buy this for her. Are we bad parents?

She confidently marched to the Toys R Us store at the newly opened Ayala Malls Capitol Central. That was the first time we saw the LOL Surprise and the price shocked us. What she wanted was worth P850! Her total earnings was not even half of the cost of a single LOL Surprise toy!

The Negotiation

While we have bought them toys worth more than that in the past, we thought that the LOL Surprise was just too expensive for a single and very small item.

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When we told her to pick another toy, Shane just kept picking anything from the shelves. Papa had to talk to her and give her time to think.

Papa had to painstakingly explain to Shane that her money was not enough to buy one and that even though she had enough, the LOL Surprise costs a lot. It is made in the USA, so when converted to pesos, the cost of the item gets multiplied many times.

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The Hatchimals Colleggtibles that they bought for P395 from Toys R Us.

Thankfully, the little one did not throw a tantrum. With the help of Shawna, the sisters decided on buying a Hatchimals set of two eggs that was PhP395. It’s still not cheap, but it’s half the price of the LOL Surprise. The girls shared the cost, with each one contributing P200 from their own money.

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The sisters share the cost of the Hatchimals Colleggtibles set of toys.

Shane was happy with her purchase. And while she continued singing carols throughout Christmas until the New Year and earning money, she never once brought up the subject of buying an LOL Surprise toy anymore, even though she can already very well afford even three of them.

We are Not KJ

We are not killjoy parents. Like most parents, we also want to shower our kids with the finest things, as long as we can afford them. This includes costumes, because we believe in the benefits of dress up play for children. However, we know also know that:

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The kids paying for their purchase with their own money–Shawna from her savings and Shane from her earnings.

This Includes Food

Another common notion that I would hear is not splurging on things but only on food. While it is a good concept, we sometimes excuse “spoiling” kids because they are just asking for food anyway.

Possible Outcomes of Giving in to Demands of Food

  1. Gluttony is okay.
  2. Food becomes a love language.
  3. Obesity becomes a problem.
  4. Junk food is preferred over healthy and natural foods.

In our family, we try to keep a regular schedule of family meal times. This covers the basics: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and dinner. We allow them to have desserts, but only Shane seems to have the penchant for sweets and in-betweens.

When somebody gives them something to eat in between their regular meal schedule, Shawna would keep the item while Shane has the tendency to open the pack immediately. But if their Papa and I are there to remind her that she can eat it after her meal, she would naturally oblige.

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The kids, especially Shane, have learned about having food in moderation. Shawna is more self controlled in that aspect.

Mind you, we do not lord it over our kids. We gently tell them why it’s not good to eat when a main meal is coming because they will lose their appetite for real food. They have developed that habit in themselves. Both of them are not overweight, not only because of genes, but also because of their personal discipline. They don’t eat more than their fair share, even if I offer them so much more.

That discipline is what we all need, including myself, because I wasn’t trained to control myself. That is why keeping a healthy weight is such a struggle for me. Thankfully, our kids are doing a better job than I am in that aspect.

The Incident at Cana Retreat

We spend the last days of 2018 at the Cana Retreat in Amlan, Negros Oriental for a family holiday and reunion. There were goodies being distributed and Shane wanted a particular canister of wafer, although she already had four different cans, but it was a prize for the games. She cried and threw a tantrum. But after some convincing that Papa will play the game and get a chance to win, she composed herself.

The sad thing was, Papa lost. Shane threw a fit again and this time, it lasted for about an hour of crying and shouting. Our relatives tried to pacify her and one even offered to exchange her prize. Since it was a big can, we asked Shane if she was willing to exchange her three small cans of wafer. She refused.

So she did not get anything and we didn’t want to give in to her either. I warned her that if she didn’t stop throwing a tantrum in five minutes (this is already after an hour of negotiating), she will get a slap on her bum and I would cancel her swimming privileges for the rest of the afternoon. Guess what? She didn’t stop.

In the end, she got punished and never got what she wanted. We talked after the incident when she was already calm and asked her if her tantrums helped her get what she wanted. She said no, as remorse is clearly evident on her face. In fact, she just spent the afternoon playing by the poolside, looking at her sister and cousins having fun in the water. This made her realize her mistake and that we won’t budge on our stand. She knew she was wrong and didn’t complain anymore nor did she throw a fit for the rest of the trip.

Why We Don’t Give Kids What They Want

These are the lessons that the kids learned during this time of raising funds for Christmas, which we pray will stick with them throughout life. These are the reasons why we don’t give them everything that they want:

So that they will learn that there is dignity in working for what they want.

We want to let the kids know about the reality of work. In this life, money doesn’t grow on trees. They have to know that.

So that they will learn to wait for the appropriate time.

There are certain purchases that can wait. They can save up for what they want until they can afford it. They don’t have to buy something immediately just because everyone else has it already.

So that they will learn to think whether they ought to buy something just because they can afford it.

Shane has the tendency to look for something to buy even if she doesn’t need it. It’s like the mentality “I need to shop!” At the supermarket, she would fill up our cart with just about anything. Papa needs to remind her that she doesn’t have to spend all her money at one time. It makes her Papa wonder how a 5-year-old can come up with the concept of “needing to shop”. The shopping impulse is natural?

So that they will not grow up entitled, thinking that the world is obliged to give them everything.

Let’s face it—this is a hard world. In this day and age of social media, we see young people going viral because of “demanding” to be served and given what they think is due to them. Why do they have that attitude? Is it because of their personalities or the lack of training? I am not sure about the reason, but the only thing I can be sure of is that kids are “trainable”.

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Many of our friends and relatives know that Shane loves unicorns. She felt content hugging them while on display at Toys R Us.

In Conclusion

More than material things, we believe that character building is more important in raising the next generation. And that’s exactly what we are doing. That day at Toys R Us, we taught Shane a hard lesson, but something that we know she will benefit from later in life.

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Happy with their “cheaper” purchase.

We don’t always give our kids what they want, but we give them what they need–the lessons that they would need to go through with their lives as grown ups.


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32 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Give Our Kids What They Want | But We Give Them What They Need

  1. Not always but most times as long as it’s not something ridiculous or if it’s still not yet time for her to have it. We give her options and let her decide what she wants more. Like she can have one or two of the things she has asked for and not all.

  2. Been practicing this till now. They only get what they need not what they want.

    If they want something, they should work for it.

    BTW my kids are 29, 24, and 21.

    1. Nice Mamu! True that. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so they need to learn the value of work. <3 You have great children. 🙂

  3. While every parent would always want to give in to what their kids would want to have, it would also be wise to think the cons of the action. Kids today are poised to develop the sense of entitlement because they get instantly what they want. What is important maybe is to explain to them very well why they can’t have what they want all the time. Happy explaining Moms. Lol 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Parenting is hard and we try to do our best, but sometimes our best is not good enough. This is why I pray hard for my kids, that the Holy Spirit and their Guardian Angels guide and guard them always. You are good parents and your kids will thank you for that. Keep the faith ♥️

  5. Evert parent does their best in providing every possible stuff to their kids related to their likes. But sometimes, catering to every whim is detrimental to their development. Thank you for writing on such a heart melting topic.

  6. I think it is always best to train to give what your kids NEED than what they want so they’d learn to value whatever you give them as they grow up. That way they will learn to value their parents hard earned money.

  7. It is always good to see other parents teaching their kids about discipline. I cringe when I see parents giving in to tantrums as that kid has learned that if I scream loud enough I get what I want. The implication for this child’s future is so sad.

  8. There was a time when i got toys for my toddler and was not interested them at all – he liked playing with the kitchen stuff! And now at 3 every single time he wants a toy! I am not sure how to decide what they need. But he thankfully undesrtands when we say no.

    1. haha It can be really tough, Tina. But for us, needs are basic, like food, shelter, clothing. They don’t need expensive, branded items. If it works, that’s fine. We usually buy education toys and books. 🙂

  9. When my son turned 3 I started teaching him the concept of money and that we can’t and shouldn’t buy everything we want. When he turned 5 I taught him that he has to contribute towards the things that he wants me to buy for him. This taught him the value of money

    1. That is so nice! Now, we are saving up for a family car and the two kids are also trying to make a contribution to the family budget. It’s not much but I know that there is great satisfaction for them in doing this. 😀

  10. Love, love, love this post! I watch each day as someone close to me struggles with not having everything they want (yes, an adult) and am forever grateful to my mother for saying ‘no’. Us kids always had everything we needed and I feel as though I have grown up a much more grateful person. This is something that i am mindful of when making choices for my own children.

    1. Now, that’s a great testimony. Thanks for sharing your story on how your mother has raised you up, Dani. 🙂 <3 Love love love!

  11. We totally don’t give my kids everything they want. They get what they need, and they get some of what they want but to give them everything is unrealistic and can cause problems when they are adults. I think them learning to make choices and earn what they get is helpful as a life lesson.

  12. parenting is such a hard job and it is hard to raise kids. i think it is all about balance. sometimes it is good to stick to what is strictly needed and some other time, occasionally, give the kid what they want, as earned reward

  13. That is actually a leadership principle that I learned–empathy means giving your people what they NEED not what they want. That means often telling people things they don’t want to hear, or setting practices and goals that at first they may not agree with, or like at all. Indeed, same principle applies to parenting.

  14. As a parent, it always breaks our heart to hear our kids cry but they have to experience disappointment in order to be able to deal with their own emotions. When they become adults, they will know how to deal with heartaches and be able to move on.

  15. This is a great lesson for kids at their early ages. I’d love to incorporate this kind if life lessons to my kids someday. The negotiation part can be really a tug of war, but the way you presented things made everything all good! Thanks for sharing this way of letting your kids learn life their way!

  16. My parents were the same way with me and my other 4 siblings. Whenever they said “no” we didn’t throw tantrums or cry, we learned to move on and appreciate what we do have.

  17. You’re right kids should learn the importance of earning something. That’s one the main things I would like to pass down to my kids that I have learnt from my parents.

  18. I think the things they need, we give them no questions asked. Those are the things which make them feel secure. The things they want, they should strive for and earn. Certainly, when they are younger we give them some of what they want because earning isn’t really a concept yet.

  19. Great post, Moms! We parents should train our kids while they are young pa lang. Kay when they become adults, they will be most likely to succeed and won’t struggle when faced with problems later on. 🙂 Shane and Din are so lucky to have you and Papa D as their parents! <3

  20. You’re really an inspiring mum and person. I always tries to give my kids what they need. But when they strive for anything they want I can’t more resist. This is really a helpful read for all parents.

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