Have you seen the viral post claiming to have found a way to cure holiday tantrums over toys? Evidently, the mom struggled with her child having melt downs in toy aisles of stores because she wanted something from Santa right then.
The mom’s solution? Take a photo of the child holding the toy to “send to Santa”. She claimed the child immediately calmed down and often even forgot she wanted the toy.
As a Christian parent, I have so many issues with this supposedly wonderful idea. Beyond the implied lie to the child that she will indeed get everything she wants from Santa (the mother had no intention evidently of giving her child most of those toys), the solution feeds a greedy, entitled heart.
There are several more effective ways of avoiding the “child melting down in the toy aisle” scenario. In fact, doing these things consistently can help you raise kids who don’t become greedy at all.
Stay out of toy aisles and toy stores with your child. Showing kids aisles and aisles of things they didn’t even know existed, only tempts them to want those things. Why encourage greed? The only time a child should be on any toy aisle is to quickly choose a present for someone else. Even in those cases, discuss ahead of time which toy you will probably purchase, find it quickly and immediately move to the checkout or another less tempting section of the store.
Avoid commercial television, catalogs and other advertising. Advertising is another way children become convinced they need something they didn’t even know existed until they saw the ad.
Explain the family budget in age appropriate ways. Even young children can understand how hard their parents work to earn the money you have. They also need to understand that God wants us to give money back to Him and to help others first. After that, there are bills that must be paid. Your family must also save money for things like college, family vacations and to repair the car when it breaks down. The little money left is for fun things like toys. You never want your children to worry about money, but they need to understand there isn’t an unlimited supply either.
Limit presents to Christmas and birthdays. If they want anything between those holidays, they must earn and save the money for those items by doing extra little jobs around the house or saving their allowance. Regularly giving your kids toys for no real reason makes them think they may just get everything they want – especially if they make it clear it is something they want badly.
Never reward tantrums. Your kids need to understand the quickest way to make sure they never receive a toy is to pitch a tantrum about wanting it. For older children, you may have to make a similar rule about continual begging for an item.
Set a good example. If you constantly talk about the things you want, spend too many hours and too much money shopping for non essential items, you can’t expect your kids to act differently.
Make sure your family finds giving more rewarding than receiving. Make regularly serving others and sharing the things you have a family priority. Focus more on how your family can give than how your family can accumulate more things for yourselves. When unexpected money comes into your family, give God a portion first.
You won’t banish greed from your child’s life by snapping a picture of him or her in a toy aisle. You can, however, by helping your child grow a godly, generous heart. It takes more time and effort, but it’s actually effective.
Raising kids to have godly values about money is tough. Not only are parents battling an extremely materialistic society, but godly principles about money require a delicate balance.
For example, everything we have belongs to God and is a blessing from Him. (James 1:17) We also need to take good care of our blessings and give generously back to God through helping others and direct donations to God’s work. (II Corinthians 9:7) We need to work hard in our jobs. (Colossians 3:23) We shouldn’t be obsessed with money, especially to the point where it replaces God. (I Timothy 6:10) And on and on.
It seems like a lot to teach a kid who is just learning to tell the difference between a dime and a quarter! Yet, if your children don’t learn how to be good stewards of their money, they will suffer a lot of negative, real life consequences. Poor money management will also tempt them to reject giving money to God or to serve others, but to keep it for themselves and what they want instead.
Have you ever thought about how many problems are caused because people never learned how to share well? Sounds silly, but think about it for a minute. An unwillingness to share easily is often a prime indicator of a selfish heart. And we all know selfishness is the root of many sins.
Not to mention sibling fights, friendship spats and other problems caused by children who don’t know how to share well. As with any character trait, it’s easier to help your child make a character trait God wants them to have a part of their identity if you start when they are young.
There are really quite a few simple and even fun things you can do to encourage even very young children to make sharing a part of who they are – not a rule they are struggling to obey.
It doesn’t take long for kids to understand the concept that money can get them things they want. If Grandpa gives them a couple of dollars, they will usually start begging to head to the dollar store to purchase some new “treasure”.
Unfortunately, kids aren’t born knowing how to be good stewards of the money God gives them. They are usually generous at a young age, but if parents don’t work with them – generosity can quickly turn to greed. If you don’t teach them how to handle money in godly ways, they won’t necessarily learn it by just watching you.
Handling money well is complex even in a secular environment. When you add God’s expectations for helping others and the church with our funds, it can become even more intricate. If you don’t teach your kids from a young age how to budget their money, they may struggle financially for many years. Check the average credit card debt in our country and you can see how bad the problem can get.
Nothing can get people more animated than beginning a discussion about money. Or poverty. Or God’s views on the two. Yet scripture after scripture talks about how God wants His people to care for the poor. Whatever your personal interpretation, I believe kids benefit from understanding the realities of poverty. The scriptures also make it clear God expects us to be good stewards of the blessings He gives us. The money your kids will be given and earn during their lifetimes is one of those blessings. Teaching stewardship should also begin early.
The average full time worker making minimum wage in the U.S. takes home about $300 a week. Let’s be generous and raise that up to $500 a week. Let’s pretend she’s a single mom with two kids and like 2/3 of single moms, receives no financial help from the children’s dad. You can make the rest of the activity simple or difficult depending upon the age of your kids and how much time and money you have to spend.
Here are some of the things you can do to help your kids “become” this fictional mom to better understand God’s views on stewardship and our responsibility to help others.