I never faced this situation when I was a child. My father tells me that I didn't have a habit of asking for things.

I remember asking for 2 things as a child. They were expensive so my parents refused and I didn't pester.

Now the situation has changed. We live in a big city. We are a middle class family, and have only one child.

Now, when child says that I want this because my friends also have it, or I saw that thing in the shop and I like it so get it for me, how am I supposed to respond?

On what basis should I decide whether I should get the child what she wishes or not?

This is not about any teenager. This is about a child who is grown up enough to ask for things but isn't grown up enough to understand that how money is earned and what can happen if we waste.

The child is currently 2 years 4 months old, so currently the situation is not applicable to her.

If I decide not to get her the thing she asked for, then what would be the way to explain her why?


4 Answers 4


Even a 2 year old is capable of learning about budgeting. While she probably doesn't really comprehend "saving" yet, it is something you can work on simply by giving her some money, and talking about choices. Talking about the difference between buying a small, cheap toy now, versus saving some money until she can afford a larger, more interesting toy, helps, even if it doesn't immediately lead to her choosing to save; over time, she'll understand, particularly when she gets frustrated that she doesn't have the money for the larger toy.

Setting an allowance - i.e., a certain amount per week set aside to buy things for her that she wants - is one good way to do this. Even if you're not handing her the money yet (since she's too young to actually have coins yet), you can still define this allowance - effectively, the "buy things for your child" budget. That amount should grow over time - both because older children want more expensive things, and because it's good to give them control over more of their expenses (thus, allowing them to choose to spend more in one area than another - one core concept of budgeting).

If you only have one child (and only intend to have one child), then you can set the budget to whatever you consider reasonable. Perhaps start with what you would normally spend buying her toys/etc. that she didn't ask for; take that annual amount, divide by 52. Discuss it with her, and let her know when she has an opportunity to spend some of it. At 2, you're going to control those opportunities; as she gets older, she'll have more opportunities to define when and where she spends her money.

If you have more than one child, as I do, you have to decide how to equitably set allowances at different ages. My parents tended to give us all the same allowance, regardless of age difference - it was based on their ability to give us money. That felt unfair, as the eldest. For our children, we give an age-based allowance; some fixed amount times their age, so (for example) a 4 year old gets $4, a 8 year old gets $8, etc., adjusted for ability to pay and parental preferences (so maybe you prefer $.50*age per week, or $2*age per week, etc.)


With my four year old, who was constantly asking for things, I started carrying a small notebook in my purse. When she found something else she had to have, I would make a deal of writing it down on her list. Amazingly, the majority of the time, hearing that we aren't shopping for that right now, but I will write it down on your list, actually satisfied her and we continue shopping with no further mention of that particular item. Come birthdays and Christmas, I would take the list and pull out some of the more recent and reasonable items, then let her go through the reduced list and pick a few things that we should get then, so she would know I really was using her list.


For me personally with my daughter (3years) it is always a situation based decision with the fine grain of balance of spoiling.

Generally I ask why exactly she wants to have it. Maybe she can borrow it from a friend. Maybe it is something she can play with when the friend is over. Its amazing how often this is satisfying.

If the wish is too big for "ok hop on, we take the bike to the next shop", then I explain that she can put it on her birthday / christmas / < any other event > list and then she might get it.

If the wish is small and will make her happy and dont ruin me, I normally agree.

If I cannot decide and none of the above is suiting - I tell her to talk to mummy ;-)

PS: In case the decision is a clear "no" you can try to explain your decision (dont lie, tell exactly why you dont want her to have it). The final argument is then always "because we say so" - might be harsh but depending on the understanding of the kid the most working solution, that (and this is the point) dont leave the kid in uncertainness or doubt.


I found that I very good way to deal with this was to give an "allowance". However, I was faced with the problem that my four year old son always wanted to spend his allowance on things that I didn't want him to have (ie, candy. Always candy)

So instead of giving money, I decided to give a symbol of money. I spray painted a roll of pennies gold and called them treasure pennies. I gave them to my children for routine chores (brushing teeth thoroughly, cleaning room, etc) and also for extra jobs (help clean garage, wash windows, etc)

That way I got to adjust the value of a thing based in part on how much I didn't want them to have the item (books got a lot better rate of exchange than candy). One added benefit that I discovered was that whenever we went to a store and my son asked "Can I have that..." I just asked him "Do you have enough treasure pennies to buy it?" and even from a early age he was able to understand that he had control over whether he got a treat, simply by how many other treats he had "purchased" beforehand.

This takes the responsibility off you and puts it on them (I'm sorry you don't have enough...I guess it wasn't a good choice to buy that candy bar yesterday). It also allows them to exercise control and take responsibility (Mom, what can I do to earn more pennies?)

Now, two is a little young to understand the value of money, but it is something you might think about introducing in a year or two. And in the meantime, if you have a reason not to want to give it to her, it is probably enough that you just tell her she can't have it, and offer something else as a diversion ("No candy...look at these nice grapes) ("No, you can't have that...shall we go to the park after we are done shopping?) if you are afraid she will turn fussy. "Reasons" don't mean much to a child that young, especially if they have to do with money or something else that the child has no experience with.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .