How to Reframe ‘No’ for Your Child When it Comes to Spending

You’re out at the mall and your child sees a toy they’ve decided they absolutely cannot live without. They beg you for it. You look at the price tag and say No, you’re not spending money on that. They throw a fit in the middle of the store. You try to leave the mall as gracefully as possible while carrying a screaming child. You make a mental note to find a babysitter the next time you really need to shop.

Most parents or guardians can relate to the experience of having to turn down their child’s desperate pleas for an expensive toy, game, or item of clothing that they don’t need. So how do you let your child down without also inadvertently triggering a temper tantrum?

Reframe ‘No’.

It’s not easy, and there are times when reframing is not going to be enough to prevent a negative reaction, but over time your child will learn the value of money while also developing the skills they’ll need later on in life to avoid chronic impulsive spending.

So how do you that? Here are a few different methods:

Tell your Child that No doesn’t mean Never, it just means Not Right Now.

Tell your child that just because they’re not getting the item they want right now doesn’t mean they’ll never get it. Explain to them that smart spending means not impulsively buying items that are going to cause you to go over your budget or to put yourself in debt. This is also a great time to introduce your child to the 24 hour rule.

Tell your Child that You already got X item, and there isn’t money in the budget for Y

Sometimes your child might have already been allowed to choose something and now they want something extra. If that’s the case, then this is a great way to explain the concept of budgeting to your child (a skill that will help them immensely when they start earning money and/or living on their own).

Tell your Child that they can Earn the Money for it

You might be inclined to give your child the opportunity to earn the money for the item they want. Whether it’s by completing household chores, getting a certain grade on a test, or lending you a helping hand with a project, giving your child the chance to work for something they want is a great way to help them understand how the world works once they’re old enough to get a job.

Tell your Child to Sleep on it and if they still want they can add it to their Christmas/Birthday/Hanukkah list.

This can be a great way to stop a temper tantrum in the fledgling stages. By telling your child to really think about the item in question rather than being forced to make a decision right then and there, you’re helping them to understand the concept of delayed gratification (which is an important skill and one often required to prevent impulsive spending and debt.)