May 24, 2021

Ask Margaret - My Kid Wants All the Things

Whether it's Pokémon cards, LEGOs or LOL Surprise Dolls, kids want stuff. It doesn't help that some collectibles are designed and marketed to make our kids crave more and more. Here’s how to help our kids control their urges to have all the things.

Do you have a kid at home who obsesses over collecting or acquiring the right kinds of things or just all the things in general? If so you are not alone.

A listener had this question:

What do you all do with a kid who wants ALL the toys? I've got a second grader who insists all his friends' parents buy all the Pokemon cards, and my husband and I are the worst because we refuse to buy every single thing he asks for. He's got a pile full of Pokemon cards, but they're not the cool ones, I guess. We're not going to change our buying habits, but how do we talk about this with him?

All kids express a need for control by having strong opinions about things they want and need, but some kids are particularly prone to obsessing over acquiring - ALL - THE - STUFF!

Margaret has labeled this phenomenon "the grabby greedies" for her kids. One way to help kids with this is to give them some context. It's important to make a distinction between things that are important to your kids (things they might want to save up for and buy with an allowance) and things that are just shiny and new (things that are being marketed to them through the TV or in their video games).

Help your kids understand that things like collectibles (example: Pokémon cards) are designed to make them want to buy more and more, but resist the urge to be dismissive of these kinds of collections by recognizing that they actually have value to your kids.

Give kids more control over the things they acquire. Consider a rule where your kid can make independent decisions over what they want for their birthday, even if it's things you consider junky. Give your kids an allowance and allow them to save up for things they want to buy. Have (tough) chores they can do around the house to earn things they want.

It's hard when we see our kids obsessing over things we consider to have no value. But the real lesson to impart to kids in this situation is that acquiring the things they want means budgeting, making choices about the value of things, and earning the things they want through patience and/or work.

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