I’m not quite sure how Mackenzie learned at such a young age that needing something carries a lot more weight than just wanting something, but she did; leaving us with the ‘job’ of helping her learn the difference between needs and wants. It wasn’t usually too difficult to do, but one day her need/want lesson was especially funny--to her grandpa and I…
John, a state law-enforcement officer, had just gotten off work and was in our bedroom removing all the required gear from his uniform and putting it away. Mackenzie, who was almost 2 at the time, and I were sitting on the bed telling him about our day. Mackenzie, however, decided jumping on the bed was more fun –until I made her stop by holding her on my lap.
Luckily (or not) for Mackenzie, the dryer buzzer went off and I left her with John while I went downstairs to retrieve the laundry. This was the chance she’d been waiting for…or in Mackenzie’s case, needing.
As soon as I was out of the room, Mackenzie shot up like a rocket and started jumping on the bed again. John told her to stop. She kept jumping. John told her to stop again. She didn’t. John swatted her on the behind, sat her down on the bed and told her there would be no more jumping. Instantly her little lips started quivering and in a shaky little voice that was trying to choke back the tears, she said,
“I think I need to speak to my nanna,”
Knowing he couldn’t laugh, John kept it together and said, “Nanna is doing the laundry, so I’m all you’ve got. But what you need is to quit jumping on the bed like we told you to.”
As parents you NEED to teach your children the difference between wants and needs. Teach them that needs make life possible, while wants are things that aren’t necessary…just nice to have.
As parents you NEED to teach your children that they can thrive (not merely survive) without the latest and greatest in tech gadgets, toys, activities, clothes and other stuff. They need to understand that having those things isn’t wrong, per se, but only if and when they have earned the privilege of having them.
Teaching your children the difference between wants and needs is a matter of the heart. It is something you will do by example—by living within your financial means and by knowing and appreciating the difference between needs and wants yourself.
Your children will know the difference between needs and wants when you hold them responsible for their actions, expect them to do chores because families work together for the good of everyone and when they are taught that it’s not what you have, but who you have in life that matters.
Mackenzie is now 5 and I am proud to say that she now has a firm grasp on the difference between needs and wants and that her beautiful smile comes from her heart as much or more as from the fact that she just happens to be absolutely beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because I’m Nanna.