Today, Tim and I took the kids to Toys R Us. Between allowance, Easter, and birthday (Book Boy), both had a sizable chunk of money saved up, and we promised them a trip to the toy store this weekend. BB cleaned his room yesterday as required (with some, um, supervision from us) and so we were all set for today. It was quite a treat, because they usually only have a chunk of money twice a year, after birthday and after Christmas.
As I expected, we split up when we got to the story – BB and Tim went one way and Little Sister and I went another. After about 45 minutes of looking at toys throughout the store, LS had made her selections. When we caught up with the guys, their cart was … completely empty. Apparently nothing was striking BB’s fancy today. Eventually we ended up in the video game section. We have an Xbox 360, and BB has a Nintendo DS (hand-held system). We figured it would be OK if he spent some of his money on a DS game – most are reasonably affordable – and the rest on toys. Of course, what HE wanted was a $60 Xbox game. A game that he’d already played, and that Tim could basically borrow any time (from his boss’ son).
$60. On the one hand, he did have the money, all his own, saved up from allowance, etc. On the other hand, $60 was most of his money, and Tim and I both felt that he’d regret the purchase later. (We know our son well!) We discussed it briefly (as much as you can discuss when both kids are standing right there) and decided that we would not allow him to get the game.
BB put on a major pout fest. In fact, I was just about to send him out to the car with Tim (and no toys selected) while I paid for LS’s toys, but he settled down and wanted to browse through the toys again.
BB forgot about the video game and made some selections that he was quite happy with (Star Wars sets, Lego sets, extra balls for his Nerf blaster, Nerf basketball set). He did mention the game again later, though, and said he wished he had been allowed to get it.
What would you have done in this situation? For parents of kids old enough to have their own money sometimes, what DO you do in this situation? Let them buy what they want, knowing they’ll regret it later, or guide them to purchases you know they’ll get more use out of? (And it’s not like we told him what toys to pick … he picked those all on his own. Well, I did steer him toward the Nerf basketball, but that seems to be his favorite of the whole bunch!) Or do you put more restrictions on purchases to begin with?