My son is 15 months old, just beginning to walk and talk. At that age, you may think that it hasn't crossed my mind to teach him about buy it for life items, but that could not be further from the truth. Like all parents, I am conscious about what I want to teach my children as they move through life, so while I've certainly never use the terms "buy it for life" with my son, I'm already working towards teaching him to value quality goods. Here are my top 5 tips and tricks for raising quality-conscious kids.
1.) Teach them to respect what they have
This is my number one tip for raising quality-conscious kids, and it's one that you can start with early. I'm already working with my son on respecting what we have as a family. So how can you help your kids learn to respect what they have? Try these easy tricks:
- Have them clean up their toys. Even young children can help stow blocks in bins and place books back on shelves, and older children should clean up their toys independently. Having them clean up after themselves teaches them accountability for what they own.
- Expect their help with household chores. Taking care of the household should be considered a responsibility of the entire family. This shows that you care about the home you are raising them in. It teaches them to respect not only their own items but everyone else's items as well. It also teaches them that there is some effort that goes into keeping things in good condition.
- Respect your own items. Kids observe what we do. If I drop my coat on the floor when I walk through the door, I'm showing my son that I don't care about it. If I hang it in the closet, I'm showing that taking care of it matters to me.
2.) Limit frivolous spending.
We all want our kids to have everything they want, but if we give in to our desire to buy them everything they ask for, we are teaching them to value quantity over quality. In the long run we're better off buying them less and being sure that we're buying them quality goods that will last them a while.
While limiting what you spend on items for them, you can also begin teaching them to save their own money to buy the things they really want. This begins to teach them the value of money and also makes them responsible for their own things. Saving for some of their favorite toys will increase the chances that they respect those toys. It will also increase their desire for their things to last.
3.) Talk to them about quality
When you are making purchases based on quality rather than just price, discuss the choice with your children. An explicit statement such as "those boots would be cheaper short-term, but these ones will last longer so the higher price tag is worth it" teaches your children to think about things on a more long-term basis. It shows them that there are things worth valuing other than straight dollar values.
4.) Ask leading questions
Try showing them two similar objects--two books you own, for example, or two blocks. Ask them questions about the objects such as:
- Which one's your favorite?
- Which one do you think will last longer?
- Which one do you think cost more?
Listen to what they say, and then follow it up with your own observations. Talk about the material the items are made out of and the durability of that material. If you don't remember what the items actually cost, you can look it up. This can be presented to your kids as a fun guessing game, but it also helps them make mental connections that will help them make quality-conscious choices down the road.
5.) Use what they're interested in to teach
From an early age, our kids have their own preferences. As a parent you may look at two similar items in the store and not understand why your son or daughter wants one versus the other.
Use this as a teaching opportunity. Ask them why they want a PS4 instead of an XBox and what differences they see. You may find that they're already making quality-conscious choices based on what they find valuable--for example, maybe they like the games the PS4 has available more than the games the XBox has available.
If after talking with them you suspect their choice is based exclusively on price or their friends opinions rather than their own values, encourage them to talk to you again once they've done some research. This expectation that they do some research encourages good habits for the future and shows them that you value well-thought-out decisions rather than quick decisions.
These are my top tricks for raising quality-conscious kids. If you have any other tips or tricks, leave a comment below!