Cambridge International School and Cambridge Early Years Centre

Teaching Children the Difference Between Needs and Wants

Teaching Children the Difference Between Needs and Wants

Children are innocent souls who require proper guidance and role models in their lives. While they have good intentions, they frequently fail to see the big picture and make decisions that are both inefficient and unnecessary. There is often a lack of vision and clarity, particularly when it comes to distinguishing between what is necessary and what is driven by desire. 

In such cases, parents must intervene and assist their children in prioritising what they need over what they want.

Explain the difference between needs and wants

Needs” are things that you can’t live without. Our lives and health may be jeopardised if we do not have what we require, such as food and water.

Non-essentials are referred to as “wants.” Your life will not be materially affected if you do not have them, though you may be upset for a while.

Be a role model

As a parent, you must first serve as a role model for your child. Instead of spending money on frivolous items, teach your child the value of immediate needs over desirable items. Show them how you can put your desires aside to provide for others and your family.

Illustrate with examples

You can demonstrate this with examples and ask your child to determine whether an item is a “want” or a “need.” Using clothing as an example, if you already own a jacket but want to purchase another with a new cartoon print, it becomes a “want.” It is a “need” if you do not have a warm jacket or if your jacket no longer fits to keep you warm.

Teach your youngster the value of hard work

Your child should first and foremost understand the value of hard-earned money. Don’t give in to your child’s every request. Rather, make them earn it through various reward systems. Give them the opportunity to earn their money whenever possible, and then give them the option to invest it in whatever they want.

Have grocery cart discussions

Discuss how you make decisions about what to buy and what to pass up at the grocery store. For example, you can buy milk but not soda, and you can buy toothpaste but not sparkly purple nail polish. 

Teach them the value of money

Many chores should be done without remuneration to teach children the importance of serving the family. However, whenever possible, provide your children with the opportunity to earn money. Compensate fairly without overpaying so that the child learns the value of the money they earn.

If you are confused, refer our guide on teaching financial literacy to children.

Make them prioritise

Prioritizing is extremely important when it comes to understanding the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants.’ Your child may believe they require everything they desire, but it is your responsibility as a parent to help them distinguish between what they require and what they wish for.

Discuss ways to meet the needs of others

Because young children have no real understanding of the world outside of home and school, they tend to be very self-centred, or selfish. Make a list of needs in your neighbourhood or community to get him thinking about others. Do you have an elderly neighbour who requires leaf raking or driveway shovelling? Is there a homeless shelter where those old coats could be put to good use? Bring your young child with you to perform small acts of kindness and selflessness.

Budget exercise

When your child is old enough to understand the fundamentals of addition and subtraction, you can work together to create a fictitious household budget. Give them a set amount of fictitious money (say, 500 rupees) and a list of expenses, both necessities and desires.

Don’t confine your needs to ‘things.’

When we think about what we need, we usually think about material things and benefits. However, while assisting your child in understanding the concept of ‘needs,’ you must also teach them that it is not limited to the concept of things and objects. Needs can include anything from emotional support to activities and, of course, material items.

Also read,  Tips to Develop the Quality of Rationality & Logical Analysis in Children

Learn the concepts of “content” and “enough”

In today’s affluent society, parents may want to provide their children with the best that money can buy. However, they must not overindulge or they will become obsessed with material possessions. Instead, teach them to be content with what they have and to only buy what is absolutely necessary.

Encourage your child to share what they have with those who are less fortunate. Reinforce the significance of thoughtful giving rather than receiving.

When you teach your child the distinction between wants and needs, they will be happier with what they have. And you’ll have a better chance of raising a child who grows up to be a contented, financially responsible adult.

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