Shopping with kids

November 04, 1999|By Lynn F. Little

As we move toward the holiday season, it is important to help your children cope with gift giving.

Gift giving can be difficult for children. Store displays and television advertisements convince them they need everything they see.

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With a little help from parents, the holidays can be a good time to teach children the value of money and to help them learn good spending habits.

* Take children shopping to buy the supplies they need.

If the children have other gifts to buy, devote a shopping trip to helping them. Don't expect them to do their shopping while you are running through crowded stores trying to get all your chores done.

* Use the guide and advise method.

Don't direct and dictate what your children buy.

Allow children to learn from their mistakes and their successes. Holidays are a good time to show them how to make a spending plan and to keep an account of the money they have spent.


* Consider the various ways your children receive spending money.

Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Giving money to children for special requests may be useful for very young children and for certain expenses such as school fees.

With the "dole method," however, the parent makes all spending decisions and the child has no responsibility.

With an allowance, children can learn to plan expenditures, allocate funds and set aside money for later use.

Most children are ready for the responsibility of an allowance by the time they are 6 to 8 years old.

Earnings give children a sense of freedom and lead to financial responsibility.

Children can begin earning money whenever they can handle the work involved -delivering papers, baby-sitting and raking leaves.

Employment helps them to understand the relationship between money, time, skills and effort.

Work also helps to develop self-esteem.

* Don't overlook cash gifts children may receive during the holidays.

Although the gifts belong to the children, parents can discuss with them how the money should be used.

Children need to have an active role in gift giving rather than a passive one.

Help children to make gifts for teachers or grandparents. Homemade gifts from children often are most appreciated.

Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County.

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