My child has his heart set on a Halloween costume that is beyond our budget. I offered to make a version by hand but he threw a tantrum. I want him to feel happy and proud of his costume but I won’t spend a lot of money for something that’s worn only a couple of times. I know saying no to other budget-related items will come up again. How do I handle this?
Brittni Fudge, owner and therapist at Kindred Counseling, PLLC, offers the following tips for parents:
Check your own emotions as your kids experience theirs: It can be hard to watch our children experience difficult emotions, especially when they escalate to tantrums, arguments, or anger.
Instead of engaging in an argument with them, or responding with your own anger, take a deep breath and tell your child firmly that the costume—or any other item they may be asking for—is beyond your budget.
- Be clear. In a matter-of-fact way, tell your child your budget. For example, “We have $20 to spend on a costume.”
- Model problem-solving by offering a couple different solutions: “To stay within our budget, I can make you a similar costume, take you to a thrift store, or ask other families on social media if they have a costume we can borrow. What would you like to do?”
- Hold your ground. Giving in to tantrums and arguments only teaches children one thing: that throwing tantrums and starting arguments gets them what they want. Keep in mind that being told “no,” however hard it is for them in the moment, teaches children important lessons about life and how to get along with others.
- Stay solutions-focused. If their begging continues, be clear and concise: “We have $20 to spend on a costume. My answer won’t change, so instead of you asking me again, it is time to move on to thinking of solutions.”
- Think about your long-term parenting goals. What are the qualities you hope to instill in your child as they grow up? As you firmly set a limit on their Halloween costume budget, think about the life-long values you’re teaching them such as humility, industriousness, unselfishness, and creativity.