1. Don't make it so easy.
I remember when the Atari came out. Oh my goodness! We thought that was the coolest thing ever. My three sisters and I wanted one. We wanted one bad. My dad got one of those cans with the plastic lid, cut a hole in the top of the plastic lid to make it look like a bank, and told us that we could buy it when we'd saved up for it. We saved and saved and saved and saved. I can't remember exactly the cost, but I remember it took us about a year to save up the money. Then we bought it, and we loved it. I played Pac-Man until I had a blister on the inside of my thumb from the joystick. The Atari was the greatest invention ever.
A few years ago, my boys wanted a Wii. My husband got one of those cans with the plastic lid, cut a hole in the top of the plastic lid to make it look like a bank, and told them that we could buy it when we'd saved up for it. (Yep, he knew the Atari-story.) It took us about nine months, and the day we bought it, the boys were so happy. The waiting and the family effort of working and saving for something was fun and taught the boys the discipline of saving for something they wanted, even if it took a really long time.
The point of this long story: Don't make it so easy for your kids to have all those things they really, really want. There is something good about saving and waiting -- and waiting and waiting.
2. Don't be afraid to say no.
Sometimes your kids don't need that stuff at all. They don't have to go to every activity. They are not entitled to play computer games all day. Say no.
3. Make them do chores.
Teach your children to do chores because they are members of your family. Things need to be done, and they need to help.
4. Don't make excuses for their bad behavior.
Adam said it was Eve's fault. Eve said it was the snake's fault. Since the beginning of history, humans do not want to take responsibility for their bad behavior. Don't enable that.
5. Don't bail them out all the time.
Sometimes they will make mistakes that cost time, energy, and grades. Don't bail them out all the time. It's ok to fail. Painful for the parent, but ok.
6. Teach them the value of money.
When young, teach them the value of money in terms they will understand. "I can buy three bags of Kroger brand of pretzels or one of this brand for the same amount of money. Which is a better deal?" Last week, I took my youngest to the grocery store and he wanted some Little Debbie's Christmas cakes that were on sale for 3 for $5. The Christmas tree shapes had 5 in the package. The same cakes in a six-sided shape had 10 in a package. He went with the 10 after I pointed out he could get way more for the same amount of money!
When they are older, make them save up for stuff they want -- even if it takes a long time. I am surprised by the number of teenagers who have no concept of what things cost.
7. Get over the guilt.
Who cares if everyone else is doing it or that everyone else has one. You need to stand firm and be the parent. It's ok. They will not die if they don't get everything they want. It's good for them. Don't feel guilty.
8. Encourage ministry to those less fortunate.
Do an Operation Christmas Child shoebox every Christmas. Help a needy family through your church. Take them to a food pantry or a soup kitchen to volunteer. Help them see that they are truly blessed.
So what do you want your kids to learn about money and stuff. Think through what you want them to know and believe, remembering that a sense of entitlement can strangle the Holy Spirit. Then go from there. We know stuff doesn't make us happy and true happiness comes from trusting in God -- let's live that out and train our kids to do the same.
Entitlement -- Strangling the Holy Spirit
Entitlement Vs. Waiting on and Trusting in the Lord