One Simple Word That Could Make a Difference in Your Kids and Your Wallet

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We live in a world in which consumerism hits us from all angles. And if you’re a parent, you probably know your children are not immune to the allure.

I want this.

Can we buy that?

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

While we may feel guilty denying our children’s requests — especially around special occasions or if we’re dead set on giving them a more abundant upbringing than we had — it can actually be a good thing to just say no.

The Case for Saying No

The most obvious benefit of saying no to your children’s frequent pleas for all the stuff is that it’ll help you save money.

But saying no to your kids can have positive effects beyond the financial benefits.

“Your refusals help children cope with disappointment, become resilient, hone their

decision-making abilities and recognize and respect boundaries — skills they will need

when they leave the nest,” said Susan Newman, social psychologist and author of “The

Book of No: 365 Ways to Say It and Mean It ― and Stop People-Pleasing Forever.”

“‘No’ is a beneficial learning experience,” she said.

Saying “no” can also help build a stronger individual, said Michele Borba, educational psychologist and author of “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.”

“Kids who are less materialistic are more ‘we’ oriented, than ‘me,’” she said. “They are more concerned about others and less worried about how they look and what they own. Their self-esteem is more authentic. But perhaps most important, research clearly shows that these children are more empathetic, caring, collaborative, compassionate and morally courageous.”

Conversely, Borba said kids whose parents say “yes” to their every request come to expect they’ll always get want they want. They grow to be less appreciative and less satisfied with what they have, she said.

Going Beyond ‘Because I Said So’

Many financial experts agree it’s good to introduce children to the topic of personal finance at a young age. But having those money discussions can be tough.

Newman recommended parents be cautious when explaining household financial limitations. She advised it’s important to reassure children not to worry about their needs being met.

“You don’t want to frighten your child, but you also want to inject a sense of reality, particularly around holidays and birthdays when the wants and wishes may escalate,” Newman said. “Be understanding of your child’s desire. Let a child know you realize he or she is disappointed. And, if true, explain that you wish you could buy what he wants.”

Borba said parents don’t have to divulge how much money they have or don’t have.

“The better approach is just to say, ‘This year we need to cut back,’” she said. “And then ask your child to prioritize. Set a money limit or toy limit. And don’t feel guilty about saying no. Your family’s health and wellbeing is always more important.”

When it comes to having these difficult chats with your children, Borba recommends delivering the information in a calm, matter-of-fact manner.

Raising Better Money Managers

While passing on all the toy-store requests can positively impact your finances immediately, it can also have lasting effects on your child’s future relationship with money.

“Being open about your inability to buy everything your child asks for can also help a child learn to be discriminating in how she spends money in the future,” Newman said. “Being realistic can set her on a path to being a thoughtful consumer.”

“Research shows that parents who are materialistic raise the most materialistic kids,” Borba said.

By setting an example of not being absorbed over materialistic items, you’ll have a better chance of raising a child who isn’t caught up in consumerism when he’s older.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys writing about parenting and money.