Positive Parenting: Dealing With Consumerism
Only allow special purchases for special occasions. A new game system or digital camera is not an everyday purchase. Encourage close relatives to chip in for big-ticket items for birthdays or at holiday time instead of buying individual presents.
Have kids use gift certificates to buy big items for themselves. Sure it's not "real money," but it spends the same way! And since hard cash is hard to come by at this age, saving it up for a big item can take a long time. When preteens receive gift certificates in small denominations, rather than letting them rush out to spend them immediately, try encouraging them to save them just as you encourage them to save their cash. Five $10 certificates to the same store will get them a lot more bang for their buck than one. You can also encourage friends and family members to purchase gift certificates to stores your preteen loves or even "mall gift certificates" which can be used at many stores in the same shopping center.
Set up a chore schedule or allowance. Sit with your kids to figure out which household tasks they would be interested in and capable of doing. Then talk with them about how much they should earn for each chore (Things usually go smother when you throw out the first amount and then negotiate from there!) Then consider setting up a chart with the tasks. This is especially helpful if it is a time limited task like "clean out the garage." By giving a due date, it helps your child set up a schedule. Also, making up a chart with chores helps kids remember what they have to do so they can earn their cash (without you having to nag them).
Encourage saving without discouraging occasional splurging. Teach your child how to save money to buy that pricey pair of jeans or shoes. There's a fine line here because you want your child to learn to save for more important things, but it doesn't hurt to splurge every once in awhile, either. After all, it is hard for a kid to accumulate such a large amount of money, so such an extravagant purchase may only happen once a year.
Don't cave in on an impulse purchasing. Once you do, there is no turning back. Your kid will definitely remember the next time he wants a new game system that you bought the current one on a routine trip to the mall.
Concur with the other parent and be consistent. If one parent doesn't stick to the game plan, you are sunk and it can create not only conflict between you and your child but also between you and your mate.
Encourage bargain shopping. Teach your kids how to bargain shop by taking them to off-price stores, shopping sale or clearance racks, or using the Internet to hunt for the best price on the purchases they want to make. If you do this right, there is a good possibility that as your child gets older, "settling" for less expensive clothes on a regular basis will become routine.
Chat it up with other parents of preteens to see how they're dealing with this issue.