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Inside: Is your child constantly asking for new toys anytime you go to the store? Here is how to stop kids from nagging for toys at the store with one easy rule that works great!
Shopping trips with young kids can easily become stressful, especially if the little ones are not in a good mood. You probably know how it feels to have a toddler throwing a loud tantrum in the middle of the store, or a preschooler engaging in an endless power struggle about a toy they “need” to have right at that moment.
And sometimes, no matter how understanding you try to be, handling these situations can put all your patience to the test!
I am a big fan of online shopping because it helps me save time and energy, but there are still situations when we need to go shopping at the store.
One of my guilty pleasures is going to Target from time to time just to see the cute things on the shelves and pick something nice for us. But the store turned out to be one of my son’s favorites as well, and this made things a lot harder for me!
Sometimes we would enter the store, and I would immediately hear my son asking for something from those aisles with cute things next to the entrance. Other times, the negotiations would start at the toy section.
At first, it was fun listening to him explaining why he “needs” a specific toy, and offering plenty of arguments for me to buy it. But after a while, it felt more like an endless power struggle that we faced almost every time we went to the store.
Sometimes I would give in and buy him a cheap toy that would put an end to the nagging. But it felt like I was “buying” my peace instead of teaching him how to control his impulses and manage his emotions. Other times, I would stay firm, provide explanations, and listen patiently to his protests, but this made the whole time spent in the store unpleasant for both of us.
I knew that it needed to be a better way to handle this!
The realization that helped me find a solution
After spending some time thinking about this issue, I realized that my lack of consistency was making things a lot worse! It was normal for my son to insist so much if he knew that sometimes the nagging would bring him a new toy.
Also, I realized that all those small toys we bought only added clutter to our house. He wouldn’t play with them for a long time, and I felt like he didn’t even appreciate them. Those toys weren’t something he really wanted. They weren’t bringing him joy. And even worse, they were teaching him the wrong lessons about impulse control, gratitude, and money.
Things needed to change, and I was determined to find a solution that would work for both of us!
The rule that put an end to nagging and negotiations at the store
Luckily, at that time my son was just starting to receive a weekly allowance from us, and this inspired me to find the solution we needed.
I invited him to a discussion and told him that he needs to learn how to manage his own money and become more responsible for his shopping decisions. He seemed to like the idea of having more control over the toys he could buy, so we agreed on a new rule for our shopping trips.
We agreed that he would be able to have new toys in only two ways: either on special occasions (like his birthday, Christmas, etc – when he would receive gifts from us or other people) or by using his allowance money.
This is how we put this into practice at the store:
- If he sees a toy he likes, he can decide if he wants to buy it (if he has enough money for it from his allowance) or if he wants to add it to his wishlist for special occasions.
- If he wants to buy the toy, I help him understand exactly how much money he would spend because this is not always easy to visualize at his age. (e.g., “This toy costs $9. You have $14 in your allowance box right now, so this would mean that you are only left with $5 if you buy this toy. Are you sure that this is the right decision for you?”)
- If he wants to add the toy to his wishlist, I take a picture of the toy with my phone or search for it on Amazon and add it to his online wishlist.
(We started implementing this method at age 5, but I think it can work for 4-year-olds as well. And it can certainly work for older kids.)
We also have some exceptions and special situations:
- If he finds a really nice toy and he needs a few more dollars to buy it (less than $5), I borrow him the money, and he pays back the amount to me from his next allowance.
- Sometimes we discover some awesome toys that I know he would play with for a long time, but he cannot afford to buy at that moment. If I don’t want to wait until the next special occasion to buy that toy for him, I order the toy online and offer it to my son as a surprise gift after a few days (or weeks).
- During family vacations, we use a slightly different approach to this rule, but it is also focused on empowering our son to make his own decision and avoiding unnecessary power struggles.
If you want to get more details about how we implemented the weekly allowance in our family, you can find all the details here: Allowance for kids: How to teach kids about money the right way.
What we noticed after implementing this rule
Like any other parenting solution, this method is not perfect, but it works great in most situations! And it really saved my sanity during our shopping trips!
I noticed that my son sometimes has a difficult time accepting the fact that he can’t buy a toy right away, but this only happens rarely and it’s usually related to a deeper emotional cause that has nothing to do with the actual toy.
This new rule has not only made things easier to handle for me, but it taught him a few valuable lessons about money, gratitude, and good choices.
Here is what we noticed since we implemented this rule:
- He learned to make better choices when it comes to the toys he buys. After a few times when he wasted his money on toys that ended up becoming clutter, he spends more time thinking before taking a decision. He managed to save money for some high-quality toys instead of wasting them on cheap toys that he would only play with for a short time.
- He became more appreciative of the toys he has. The fact that he needs to save money for the toys he wants or wait until a special occasion to get them made him more grateful for the things he has.
- He has a better understanding of how people manage money. He understood the importance of saving money and the consequences of wasting money a lot better than when I was just explaining these concepts to him. Being able to see how money management really works had a very positive impact on him. He still has a lot more things to learn, but I’m happy with what he learned so far.
This simple solution has helped us stop our son from nagging for toys when we go to the store, and I’m very glad that we implemented it!
I’m pretty sure that it can help you as well if you are facing a similar issue so I hope that you found some good inspiration in this article!
More parenting tips
- How to limit screen time without a struggle with one easy idea
- How to help kids overcome the fear of failure and why this is so important
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