Impulse Control vs. On-Trend Items Your Kids Want

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The idea of “retail therapy” is a seductive one.


When everything else in your life is making you feel stressed and unsure, then you can head the nearest mall for an automatic pick-me-up. There’s a reason the word “therapy” is in there; there’s something about buying a whole new world of promises that few of us can resist every once in awhile.


When we become mothers, the instinct remains the same – but this time, we’re not just shopping for ourselves. We find ourselves delighting in baby booties we can fit in the palm of our hand, snug snow caps and slogan t-shirts that no child of ours can possibly do without.



Continue this trend for long enough and soon, our kids will grow and pick up on our shopping habits too. To an extent, that’s one of the delights of motherhood. Seeing your son in a suit for the first time; swatching eyeshadows with your daughter and debating their pigmentation. It’s all part of the ritual of helping them grow up and create a sense of bonding.


None of anything mentioned so far is problematic. It’s natural, instinctive; the desire to share with our kids, the latent desire to enjoy the beautiful things in life for ourselves. Shopping isn’t inherently bad or something to be avoided, even in a period of time where we worry about shopping addiction and the impact of consumerism on kids.


So When Is It A Problem?


The obvious answer here is: when you’re buying things you can’t really afford. Racking up debt with little but a gorgeous array of outfits and home decor purchases isn’t sensible – and it’s definitely not sustainable.


The other issue is that, sometimes, our children can influence us to make bad purchasing decisions. This one is a lot trickier to crack than a simple “put the credit card away!” statement.


Let’s say there’s a new, popular item that no child can be seen without. Maybe there’s a new outfit for the girls suggested at and every parent (and thus every child) at your kid’s school is going mad for it. It’s just like the various trends in toys; they come, they blossom, they’re inescapable. Soon, you see the same bag every time you drop your child off at the school gate, or there is a march of the same pair of boots pounding the sidewalk.


So you know that shopping isn’t inherently bad and you can definitely see the appeal in the hot item in question – so why not buy it?


A Teachable Moment – For You and Your Child



This is a chance to grasp hold of one of those “teachable moments” we’re all meant to covet.


You’ve got a situation where your child wants a must-have item. You have the funds to procure it, should you wish to – so there’s no worries about the cost in your mind. You also have no objection to buying the item.


So… you buy it, right?


That’s not a very teachable moment right there, if we’re honest. Want should not always translate to get instantly, so it’s time to put a few money-aware hacks into action.


Why Now?


A valid thing to wonder: why do this now, when there’s a hot, must-have item? Is it not a terrible time – should this kind of thinking not be practiced for less important, of-the-moment, hot button garments?


No – that’s exactly why right now is important. As suggest, childhood is almost a form of impulse control disorder – an age when we look to our parents to make decisions for us, because we can’t control it. It’s therefore up to you as the adult and the parent to take the control and apply it to both you and your child.


And why not test this at a time when the need is at its highest point? If you can control the desire to just buy something to satisfy the nagging feeling of need at its apex, then you can control it at other times too.


There are numerous ways and means of beginning to quell this concern. The tactic of just trying to tell yourself no, you’re not buying it… well, it’s not going to work. It’s also limiting; humans don’t respond well to restrictive conditions in the long term. A “maybe” or “soon” is always going to elicit a better response with more to learn from than just expecting you both to jettison the existing desire.



To fully deal with this, you – and your child – need to ask yourself a set of questions.


1. Do You Want This Because You Love It – Or Just Because Everyone Has It?


The desire to fit in with the crowd can be an overwhelming one, to the point where we sacrifice general thought-processing skills to reach that goal. But it’s important – from a financial management standpoint – to try and overcome this.


So do you and your child love and want the desired item because it’s something you really like? Or do you only want it so you can fit in with the in crowd?


There’s nothing particularly wrong with the idea you just want to fit in, but it does depend more on your financial circumstances. Are you going to leave your budget short if you indulge this purchase? If the answer is yes, then it might be time for a rethink. Postponing the decision for a few months will give time for the trend to die down and then you can evaluate if it’s really as essential as you thought.


If you do want it for all the right reasons and have the finances available, then proceed.


2. Is It Practical?


Some of the most adorable clothes for kids are just that: adorable. They look so wonderful and you can imagine how lovely it would be for your child to be wearing them. You can see how the garment in question would coordinate with the rest of their wardrobe.


However, when ‘adorable’ and catching the market are the biggest selling points, that can present a problem. While not always being the case, there is a chance that practicality has not been of the foremost concern for the manufacturers.


Take a pair of snow boots. Let’s say they tick all of the adorable boxes with ease: they’re cute in color, have lovely felt tassels, and generally you feel warm and snuggly just looking at them.


On a practical level, however? Well, those tassels may look nice now, but will they when they have been soaked through by snow or rain? Probably not.


Always try and keep practicality as part of the decision-making process. It’s the only surefire way to ensure your purchase has some longevity beyond the initial fever-pitch of the trend.


3. Can I Put This Off?



Finally, an important way of controlling the impulse is to delay the purchase.


It might only be for a few days, but it’s important to show your kids that delayed gratification can be just as rewarding. Rather than going through a simple process of: want – decide to buy – buy, insert a “wait” in there to show some sense of control. It’s a small victory but an important one, making the clear point that good things do come to those who wait.

So while there may be moments when you want to indulge in the most tempting forms of retail therapy, it’s valuable for both you and your kids to see a measure of self-restraint. Go through the questions, scrutinize your motives, and only part with your cash when you’re sure it’s the right decision for you.

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