Not Keeping Up With The Joneses

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Children deserve to be treated to gifts, surprises and new things! They are growing individuals who thrive on new technology and items for their learning and enjoyment.  But there is a definite difficulty with the quick pace of growing technology: children often want for items that may be out of your family’s budget or simply not a choice you would make for your child.  Children in school exist in an especially harsh world of peer pressure to have the latest things.  Specifically phones, tablets, music players and other new devices make for difficult conversations that make you feel like you are letting your child down.  But there are ways to teach your children that there isn’t always a need for the latest things and that other children are rewarded and treated in ways that are different and personal to their families.


Phone updates and new releases seem to be happening every other week.  Pre-teens (or even younger children!) are experiencing technology at a rate that we cannot fathom.  But providing your child with a phone may be a form of safety and communication that your family sees most important.  If you have conversations with your child about what they can and cannot do with their cell phones it may also be a time to talk about the reality of money, bills and the expenses phones can bring.  Children who are old enough to understand the responsibility of cell phones may also understand that certain features are not necessary. Being honest about money in a way that children can understand will also make conversations about other responsibilities easier in the future. 


A great way to provide your child with their most desired items is also to set up a reward system.  Whether it is grades or chores, your child may be able to work towards the thing they want while also learning a sense of responsibility.  Children should understand why hard work and good grades are important without reward.  But the younger the child, the more it may be necessary to set up a system that gradually teaches them diligence in those areas.  Setting a timeframe may also help you plan on a family upgrade! Saving money and including the entire family in the process could prove very successful. 


With the holidays approaching, your family could choose to use their funds for a group gift.  If your children are getting older, saving their money and buying gifts of their own, you could ask if they would prefer to buy their own phones in place of gifts they will give and receive.  The entire family could share in the fun of a new upgrade while saving money in the long run. 


However you handle your child’s desire to get what’s new and “the latest”, it is important to act within your means as a family.  Children may be discouraged because their phone is not entirely up to the standards of their peers, but in the long run they may be learning the value of budgeting and rewarding themselves for good work and sticking to responsibility.  If you choose to make it a gift, you can still insist they act responsibly and maybe even help in the maintenance of the finances.  The smallest responsibility is enough to start a child on the right path to maturity in adulthood.


This blog was written by Mark Sullivan. Mr. Mark has been a Certified Teacher at The Children's Workshop since 2011. He has worked at five different locations in all classrooms. Mark is pursuing his certifications for Lead Teacher and Director as well as his degree in Education and Management. He lives in Providence, RI.