Managing your teens requests for ‘toys’

I hear your struggle in wanting to find a balance between providing for your kids' needs and desires, and not being an overindulgent parent.

As a parent of two teenagers, I find it so difficult to know how to manage their requests for new “toys.” Every day there is a new device, or computer game, or article of clothing that they just have to have!

How can I keep up when the popular demand keeps changing and my kids are worried they won’t be cool without the latest thing?

The question you bring up is extremely relevant in the current age of immediate gratification.

I hear your struggle in wanting to find a balance between providing for your kids’ needs and desires, and not being an overindulgent parent.

Many parents today grew up learning skills for how to be resourceful and conservative with their spending. Delayed gratification is a lesson that was highly valued in past generations, but appears to be diminishing with young people these days.

There are many reasons for why this might be.

For one thing, we are living in a technological age that is growing faster than we can keep up with. Today there are far more gadgets, and devices, and new technological advances than there have ever been in history.

Secondly, many current parents grew up in homes during tough economic times. Finances were tight and spending and saving wisely were necessary skills to survive.

Most people these days have all of their basic needs provided for, and have the time and the resources to spend money on frivolous things.

We live in a culture that prides itself on immediate gratification. This does make it difficult for parents to know how to manage the requests of their children.

Despite the ability that a lot of people have to buy what they want, when they want, there is still great value in teaching children delayed gratification. When you look at our current economy, you can see the devastating effects of people spending more money than they actually had.

It might help to dig deep into the motivation as to why your child wants a new toy.

Were they feeling sad or depressed? Were they bored? Were they seeking attention from another person? These types of questions help to identify the motivation behind the urge to spend.

Some people simply get addicted to the act of spending money. Buying something new brings a rush of adrenaline, which is quickly overtaken by the realization that they did not even want or need the item purchased.

If this behaviour is continually indulged, it can turn into an addictive behaviour. Instead, you can help to teach your kids the benefits of waiting. The act of waiting and longing for something can make the feeling of gratification so much greater when it is actually realized. That is why it is called delayed gratification.

But what do you do when your children are devastated and feeling like they won’t fit in without the latest toy?

First off, help your child to see the big picture. The item that is all the rage right now may not last longer than a couple of weeks. Teach them how to look beyond “right now” and to make choices that will benefit them down the road, too. If you do decide to get your child something they have asked for, give them a time period before you purchase, and check see if they are still interested in the new item after several weeks have passed.

This will help things that are truly frivolous to fade and help you to save your money.

Teach your children the value of saving money by setting up a savings account and helping them choose how to spend their money. This will set them up for success long after they have left home.

At the end of the day, remember, you are the parent, so don’t feel bad making decisions that are for the best interest of your children. One day, they might just thank you for it!

If you wish to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at info@pacifictherapy.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.

Just Posted

Comox resident proposes golf course conversion to park

A Comox resident is hoping he’s not the only one who would… Continue reading

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

Y2K Spitfire comes home

Stocky Edwards guest of honour at banquet

Crown Isle acquires Longlands Golf Course

The Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community just got a little bit… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Amalgamation fails in North Cowichan and Duncan

North Cowichan says yes, but Duncan says no

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

Jett Woo highlights 5 Canucks choices on Day 2 of NHL entry draft

WHL star out of Moose Jaw tabbed in Round 2

Lawyer fired in B.C. courtroom during trial for dangerous driving causing death

Dustin Dennis Zinter was charged following November 2015 accident near Nanaimo, B.C.

Most Read