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  1. nurturehernature says:

    This is great! I love the ideas that you have here and plan to start using the list. It validates her want but also teaches self-control and curbs the need for instant gratification. Love it!

    1. I snap a pic of what they want and save It in my phone. and say will save It for Bday or Santa.

  2. Love this idea! I do try to acknowledge my kids’ wishes, but writing them down on the spot is genius!

  3. Barbara Dougherty says:

    what do you do if when you ask “do you want to put t on your wish list?” she/he says no, I want it now.
    Good ideas. :)

    1. Alvastarr says:

      Yeah, that’s what would happen with my son. He would say no, he doesn’t want it on the list because birthday/Christmas is “sooo far away and that’s too long to wait for it because I want it now!” (And this would be even if bday/Xmas is 1 week away). Then round and round we go. I don’t understand how she has a 95% success rate with this.

    2. Carynne Norwood says:

      For me i would simply say i am NOT buying it today. But if it is important to him/her we can add it to the wish list.

    3. If they don’t want it in their wishlist and want it now then I tell them that they have to buy it with their own money. Case closed.

      If my son knows he wants something specific when we got to the store, he’ll bring his wallet and buy it himself. Otherwise, I do use the method of taking a picture and putting it on their wishlist.

    4. I was wondering this too!

  4. Mindy Hooper says:

    We have done variation of this, take a picture of the item with the price. Usually when Christmas (also my daughters bday 1 wk before) is approaching and everything is a want-right-now because of all the many commercials tapping into kids thoughts of “Yes, I do love and want all 20 different kinds of stuffed animal I can store stuff in”. We try to minimize tv or only do netflix and dvd’s this time of year specifically for this reason. And they are thinking about things they would like to have because we have asked them to make a list.
    Also, a great way to avoid impulse buys even for grown-ups too, have a well thought out list when you go to the store. If they see something they want (sugary cereal, a character themed lunch bag), you simply “Sorry, it’s not on the list honey”. And when making the list before going to the store, let them put one thing on the list they want (this is mostly with food shopping, don’t need to have a toy every time you stop in a super store). This will work up to a certain age, then they say add it to the list while you are in the store. But worked like a charm for many years for us! I don’t remember where I read it a long time ago, but glad I did. I am going to implement this phone list idea too! Thanks Kelly!

  5. Taylor Jaramillo says:

    i do this all the time with my kids. if i am willing to buy them something i let them know and their set price range. otherwise they will point it out and say i would like that someday or can i have that for my birthday? or they buy it with their own money

  6. Jenny @ Unremarkable Files says:

    What about saying, “Did you bring your money?” I would be worried about creating entitlement teaching them that every time they want something it goes on a magical list of things other people will get them.

  7. Amy@MoreTimeThanMoney says:

    My son is just coming up to 3 and thankfully he hasn’t started asking for things yet. I really like how this strategies teaches that good this comes to those that wait. I’d want to be careful that the wishlist remains viewed just as that, and not as a list of expectations!

  8. Linda Stanton French says:

    I told my kids before we ever got to the store whether or not they were going to be able to buy something and what the budget was going to be. And then I stuck to it. My kids didn’t whine. They saw me leave a store without buying anything that wasn’t on the list, too. In other words, practice what you preach, parents. If there was something that really interested one of the kids, I told them to remember it when their birthdays or Christmas came around, or, if they were earning (not being given, but working for) allowance, then I reminded them to save part of their money to go toward the thing they liked. More often than not, they no longer wanted it when buying time came.

  9. I would. tell the kids if today is a “looking day” or a “buying day” before we went into the store.

    Today is the “buying day”. Everyone can choose one book to buy or hot wheel car, game or whatever. Or, “We are going to buy something for …….. to surprise ….!” What would Grandma really like a lot?”

    Today is a looking day. Do you want to look at toys? I need help finding Tide, toilet paper, & Dawn. Who can help me find Dawn? Etc. It becomes a treasure hunt to shop instead of a battle. It worked with 5 kids.

    1. My struggle is that sometimes I’m like, yeah that is really cool, sure we can buy it! And other times I’m more strict on a budget or I know he doesn’t really want it. So I’m inconsistent because sometimes I want to buy him stuff and sometimes I don’t lol. Is the answer to just always say no?

    2. I called it “research shopping “

  10. This is brilliant! No whining, Christmas list, and life skills all in one simple hack.

  11. Kelly, omg, I do exactly this and have written an article about it, too (in the process of editing). Acknowlegde and validate desires, ask to put their Eid wish list and then literally have a list on my Evernote App. I learnt it from dr Laura Markham’s peaceful parenting book; she suggested a birthday list, if I remember correctly, and adapted it for our family. Thank you for sharing. And with love and well wishes to you and yours <3

  12. Shena Sabens says:

    This trick really does work! When this happens with my children, I ask them if they want me to add this to their birthday or Christmas list (whichever one is closer). They always say yes, so I pull out my phone and actually take a picture of them holding it (sometimes I show it to them). I say, “Ok, it’s on your list!” in a very excited way. It works! Sometimes they’re a little sad that they don’t get it right away, but they’re not whining about it.
    I do like the idea of going back to revisit the item with your child. I’ve never done this. But you know what…… my children have NEVER asked for that thing that they HAD TO HAVE in the store that day.

  13. Great tips I love them!! I usually will tell my kids they can have one thing or nothing depending on my funds ! Also I try my best to leave the kids with dad whenever possible!

  14. I agree that the first step is important with this strategy. My shortcut after that is to take a picture of the item my daughter is asking for then review them after a week or two, then again…she’ll realize for herself about the value of what she wants and delete the picture herself.

  15. Back in the check writing days, I carried a “check book” for each of my kids. We recorded their allowance and gift money in the register. When we were out and they asked to me to buy something, I reminded them they could spend their own money. I cut down on 90% of the asking. I think I got the idea from someone on Focus on the Family.

  16. We do this too! After a while my kids automatically started saying they were putting this and this toy on their list. You took it another step by having a physical list and discussing the list. I love that! Ours is mental and 75%of the items are forgotten by the time a birthday or Christmas rolls around, which works with us because that wish list is neverending!

  17. Hi Kelly, I love this advice, especially the tip about the Wish List, so clever! I’m definitely going to use that.

  18. This is great. We do something similar when we go shopping, though my son has outgrown the whining or things stage, he still sees things he thinks he wants. It is a great way to build up a Christmas or birthday wishlist.

  19. Kaaren Tamm says:

    maybe im the odd one out. if i have the money for it, so what? as long as im not going into debt to give her what she wants who cares? but im weird like that.

  20. This is terrific! My kids are a little older now so they don’t go to the store with me very much, but this would definitely work for my teenagers. And, yes, bacon bandaids are great!

  21. This is a great idea! Thank you!
    Usually when my children see something that they really like, I acknowledge it and say wow that is nice, but then we ask do we really need it? And they answer, no, we don’t need it, but it is cool! And then we walk away – The best part about this trick is that I use it on myself!! (And 9 times out of 10 it works on me too!)

  22. Julie Pearce says:

    Definitely going to do this. Love your parenting hacks. Thanks so much!

  23. joyfully5 says:

    My love language is gift giving. So when I went to Cracker Barrel with my 7-year-old grandson for a birthday card for a friend, I was ambushed when he brought me a soft and cuddly baby Yoda (Star Wars) stuffed alien. One look at Yoda and my grandson’s sweet face, and I was toast.
    When I read your post, I printed your answer to children wanting everything they see – twice. Once to laminate and carry in my wallet, reduced to a few sentences, and the full post to keep on my computer in the “kids” folder. Thank you for this solution. My son and daughter-in-law will be so grateful! One toy room can only hold so much before it looks like grandma owns a toy store and keeps bringing box-loads to their house.

  24. I snap a picture of it put it in the “things I REALLY want” folder. They love going back and scrolling through the pics and will say “I really do want this on my bday (or Christmas)

  25. I let my daughter know that we are not buying any toys today. We are only getting what we really need. I almost always offer to take a picture of it so we can remember it for another time. Lately she hasn’t been asking to buy the toy. She skips right to, “can we take a picture of this?”
    It’s especially helpful at Christmas time so I can send photos to family or “Santa.”

  26. Nandini Hirawat says:

    Thank you veryyyyy much! Found it really helpful… My 11y/o sister keeps demanding a lot of toys and accessories and comes to me whining about how she never has enough of them and needs more ?

  27. Emily Brownell says:

    This is one of the most ableist articles I’ve ever read. So basically I’d children have things like adhd they won’t be happy or successful in life?

    1. It’s not abelist to recognize a difficult truth. Kids with ADHD DO struggle in school and teaching ways to cope early on is critical to their success. So this is even more important for kids (and adults) with disabilities like ADHD to learn. We are more likely to have trouble with impulse spending and to go into debt. I use a similar trick with my son to help both of us with impulse control because I (the ADHD parent) am way more likely to buy him presents on a whim.

  28. When I would take my boys grocery shopping, I would let them have any one item they wanted. If they found something else they wanted, they had to trade. One time my youngest traded a package of cookies for a can of beets. True Story! This way I only had to buy one item not planned.

  29. Becky Knick says:

    I like to go yard saling, and I take my son with me. I give him $10 that he can spend whatever way he wants. Or, if he doesn’t want to buy anything he can keep the money. No whining for things, and you’d be surprised how often he goes home with ten dollars. And…I don’t end up with a house full of junk.

  30. Barb KOSKI says:

    I convinced my children that I couldn’t purchase anything that wasn’t on sale. So anytime they found something they wanted, they asked “mom, is this on sale?” I will take a very serious look at it and then give them a disappointed look and say “oh no it’s not on sale right now. We will have to wait.” So basically, they thought that if it wasn’t ON sale, it wasn’t FOR sale. You should’ve seen other mothers looking at me like I was a genius! Worked every time.

  31. Maggi Norris says:

    When my daughter was about five years old, she used to get money for various reasons: allowance, birthday gift, etc. When we went to the store, I had her bring her money with her. Then if she saw some thing she wanted she could buy it herself. I explained to her while we were walking through the store that if she bought whatever it was that she thought she wanted and then saw some thing that she wanted more she would not have enough money to get it and so would not be able to buy it. Many times this caused her to keep whatever it was in the cart, but think about it as we walked through the store and often times she would change her mind and put the item back. This helped her to make decisions on her own and really consider if she really wanted what she was looking at or she just wanted the experience of buying something on her own. It also helped her to place value on the things that she bought and not to buy things foolishly. I never would have stopped her if she wanted to buy something, but I never had two, she always thought about it, and then made her decision.

  32. “You can’t always get what you want” is our family’s silly theme song. We started playing it when they were little, and will play it every now & then; My teens find it entertaining & will sing along. It has a great message,” you might find, you get what you need!”

  33. How much is it? Can you buy it today?
    I can’t buy it today either.

    When child is 5 and older, give them a certain amount of cash before you go shopping. Parents choose not to add monetarily if the item is cents higher.
    Reinforcing staying under budget.

  34. Great idea putting items on a wish list, I’ll definitely be using that one.