Friday, June 17, 2016

Make Kids Submit Written Proposals For Questionable Purchases

Writing A Purchase Proposal

“Why can’t I buy it? It’s my money!”

What parent hasn’t heard that refrain?

If “it” is cigarettes, that’s a short conversation.

If “it” is some harmless, yet ill-advised item. Well, that’s how kids learn to spend their money wisely.

But what if “it” is in that gray area for a youngster of your child’s age? Maybe some form of entertainment that you find borderline at best.

Then what?

Instead of an argument, try the written proposal tactic: “I’m not in favor of this purchase because it appears to go against the principles we’ve just discussed. But if you write a thoughtful essay defending the purchase, I’ll at least consider it.”

Why not just put your foot down and say “no”?

  • You’ll cool the temperature. Conversations quickly escalate. Emotions accelerate. Writing slows things down. Writing is more rational.
  • Your child might agree after quiet reflection. After thinking through an essay, your child might just come to the same conclusion — maybe for the same reasons, maybe not. No harm. No foul. No purchase.
  • Your child will be heard. You’re familiar with the laments: “But you don’t understand!” “You never listen to me!” The written word is often easier to “hear” than the spoken (or yelled) word.
  • You might agree after quiet reflection. Often, kids will put a surprising amount of research and thought into making a compelling case. You might see a benefit, maturity, or motivation that you hadn’t anticipated. All things considered, maybe this purchase is reasonable after all.
  • Your kid will define and own the boundaries. Kids are smart. They know your objections. They know they’re going to have to propose some strict rules to secure the deal. Often, their rules end up being stricter than what you had in mind. The cool thing is: when your kids get to define the boundaries, they’re more likely to abide by them.

So, next time your kid wants to purchase something that falls in the gray area, tell her to submit a proposal in writing. (See here for an example.) That way, even “no” will be a learning experience.

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