The holidays are quickly approaching and I am very excited to begin our families holiday shopping. This year, my youngest who is in preschool, is at that age where he truly understands how holidays work. In a sense this will be his first Christmas where he can fully comprehend the act of giving gifts. As we have had a few birthdays recently, he understands the process of picking out a gift and giving it to that person. It is an exciting responsibility that he has really become interested in, especially when shopping for siblings. I feel like this is a great time to introduce him into the process of spending money on a budget to pick out gifts for his sister this Christmas.
The first thing we did was establish a budget. I felt that explaining to him the reasons why we CAN’T buy every pony and electronic gadget out there was important. I told him that we only have a certain amount that we would be spending and we have to stay at that amount. I pulled $25 out in cash and showed it to him. I explained it as we have $25 like 25 points. He understands the concept of how points work in a game, you could correlate it to something of another value your child would understand better as well. Points is just what worked for us. So, he had 25 points to spend and that is all.
Next, we talked about the act of giving gifts. I reminded him that when we are choosing gifts for others, its not about what WE want or how that item makes us feel. It is all about the other person. Will it excite them? Make them feel happy? Is it something that they will use and enjoy? I wanted to really get him to comprehend the act of giving, its hard for a preschooler to not want to buy toys for themselves when shopping for others. Explaining the ‘why’ behind giving really helped.
We then talked about how to spend the money at the store. I clarified that every toy or item is going to be a certain dollar amount or points, so we have to pay attention and keep track. He understood somewhat, and then we ventured to the store. At the store I showed him the numbers and reminded him we can only spend $25. He started to shop around for his sister, picking out different toys, and really trying to keep up with the math. We took our time and counted, I showed him different combinations of toys he could choose from. Overall, he really did enjoy trying to figure out what to buy his sister while staying in budget. There were also bouts of frustration in the middle of our shopping expedition. It was hard a few times when he wanted to choose 3 items that were more than our budget and one big item that was way over. But, by calmly reexplaining to him our budget and the purpose of the shopping trip, he soon was able to see past it. He was able to narrow down a few items that he really thought she would enjoy, and he successfully bought gifts for his sister!
The joy that he felt picking out his gifts may be greater than when she actually opens them. He really felt in control, proud, and successful through this entire process. I am so proud of him for being able to problem solve and really try his best staying on budget and picking out something his sister will love. Keeping it simple and finding a way for him to connect to understand the process of using money was key. I am glad he was able to pick something out for her all on his own, it will make giving it to her that much more meaningful. Fingers crossed he can keep it a surprise until Christmas!
Lead Pre-Kindergarten Teacher