How to Say “No” When Your Child Wants Something

There’s something about children that tugs at our heartstrings and makes us want to keep them safe and protect them from heartbreaks of any kind. That’s why we feel upset and sad when we see their big eyes fill with tears and their tiny faces scrunched with anger when we refuse them something they want.

How often have you shopped with your little one and found the experience nightmarish because your child wants everything he/she sets eyes on?

My niece does this, and it gets pretty embarrassing when she throws herself down on the floor and bawls her heart out when her mom refuses to buy her something. But no matter how hard the tears flow, no matter how long the tantrum continues, it’s not good to give in to the whims of your young one. Besides the fact that you cannot afford to buy them all that they ask, it sets a bad precedent if they learn that they can manipulate you with just a few tears and tantrums. If you face similar problems with your child, here’s how you could try to convince your child to behave better:

  • Mean it when you say NO: If you give in when your child begins to act up, the same routine is going to repeat itself every time you go shopping. Your kid is going to get used to the fact that a few tears are enough to make you relent and buy whatever he/she wants.
  • Don’t try to make it up to them by buying something else: Besides being a financially foolish move, it does not give you the advantage you need when you go shopping. Children are perceptive, and that’s why they will soon realize that they can get something out of a shopping trip by crying hard enough.
  • Forget the incident once you leave the shop: Don’t harp about it or go on about the way your child behaved in the mall or shop. This will only make them more rebellious and determined to do it again.
  • Talk to your youngster: If he/she is at an age where they can understand money, tell your child that you cannot afford to buy them all that they want because of your financial situation. If he/she is just a toddler, use the line that the product they want is not good enough, and that you’ll buy something better.
  • Remember that kids forget easily: Your child will most likely forget the incident once you get out of the shop and stop for an ice cream or snack or see a clown on your way home. That’s the best part about children – they don’t hold grudges.

Learning to say NO to your child, for their own good, is a great way to instill the value of money in them at a very early age. Once they know that they cannot buy indiscriminately, they will learn the art of saving and spending money more wisely.

This post was contributed by Kimberly Peterson, who writes about the accounting degree online. She welcomes your feedback at KimPeterson2006 at

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