How To Say ‘No’ To Your Kids When They Want More

LOS ANGELES (CBS)—  Every kid has said it. “I want that.”

But in this economy, sometimes parent’s can’t afford “that.” Or “this.”

What happens when you need to, have to, tell your kids the economic reality of the situation: “I can’t afford it.”

Stacey Butler, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, asked parents and experts how to cope with the problem as part of our “Survive This Economy” series.

She spoke with the Stanley and Horning families of Garden Grove.

The Hornings are even financial analysts. And Butler reports, they are living on half of their old salaries. They’ve downsized as they struggle to raise their 4-year-old son.

Doug Stanley lost his lucrative electrician’s job. He became an exterminator to support his wife and three kids, aged 7-14.

Both families are cutting back on holiday gifts this season. But how to tell the kids they’re not getting everything they want.

Dr. Dean Leav, a child psychologist, told Butler that, even during the holidays, its more about how the parents “get” along than what the kids “get.”

Says Dr. Leav, “A lot of how the kids are is a direct affect on how the parents are, so if the parents are preoccupied with their jobs, their finances, their living situations that has a very negative affect on the kids, more so than saying no to a toy they want.”

Dr. Leav offers tips on how to cushion the blow.

With older kids, he says be honest. “Tell them the family is on a limited budget. Turn it into a practical life lesson.”

For parents with younger children, like the Hornings, try not to discuss financial fears, he says. “Provide love and affection. Spend time with your kids. If they still want a certain toy, offer them a less expensive one.”

Dr. Leav also suggests making gifts. Especially if they require you to spend more time with your child.

Spending too much and out of guilt, says Dr. Leav, will only add to the stress level when the bills arrive. And he says, kids always key into their parents stress levels.

For more information, the following links might be helpful.

Dr. Phil tells you how to talk to your kids about money.

Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [FDIC] gives advice to parents about kids and money.

Kids Health: How To Talk To Kids When Money Is Tight

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  • cleaning up the mess

    My easiest answer to my teenager is “When you have a job, you can decide what you want to spend your money on. Right now I’m not spending mine on….”
    He quits asking for things that are not necessities when I say that.

    • Dr. Dean Leav

      Nice, firm answer! I’m glad your boy responds well to such firmness.

      -Dr. Leav

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