Little, less, still less…,
or how to plan the budget

Goal: understand the notions of “home budget”, “need”, “whim”; teaching the ability to plan and to consistently carry out plans; exercise anger management skills.

Planning the home budget is a moment for some and eternity for others. Regardless of the attitude we have towards budgeting, we seldom encourage children to cooperate while we do it. Pity. The ability to plan, consistently stick to the plan and to not give in to whims, are the key features of an enterprising person.

Only, how to plan the budget when the mid doesn’t read, doesn’t write and doesn’t count? As usual an idea is needed. Let us start with defining the purchasing goal - e.g. baking something delicious or building a toy. It is important for the goal to be attractive to the child and the potential shopping list to be short. If the kid can write, then the task is much simpler. If not, you can cut out the things you need from a newspaper or advertisements and glue them onto a big sheet of paper to make the shopping list.

If the shop is far away or if the kid is shy, practice shopping at home. For that you can use an off-the-shelf supermarket playset or prepare it yourself. You will only need shelves with products or their photos, a cash desk and money. You can naturally use replacement money in the form of token coins, gummies or an old invalid credit card.

If the kids can count, you can provide prices next to the products, if not - have one product cost one coin or one gummy. In the play it is important for the kids to only put those items into a box (it can be the shopping cart), which are on the shopping list. Naturally the shop should also offer dolls, toy cars or building blocks. When the kid wants to buy them too, you can ask: is this on our shopping list? Do we need it? Is it just a whim?

While explaining the difference between a need and a whim, together with the kid group the products available in the home supermarket into those, which are needed and those, which at that time are just a whim. In case of probing questions from the kid you can simply say that a need is a “thing from the list”. You can also talk about what to do if there suddenly comes a desire for a whim while shopping. Among the many ideas that may appear, the parent should draw the child’s attention to three of them:

  • each of the shoppers can buy a whim for a specified amount,
  • add the whim to the next shopping list,
  • speak about the whim without shouting and stomping and with use of the word “please”.

This is illustrated by the drawinglink opens in a new window.

Attach the selected item to a shopping list, which you will take to a real shop. You can also sign the list the way you do it when signing a contract. Also remind the child that you will be buying only the items on the list and if a whim appears, then you will follow the sign beside the shopping list. The kid’s duties when in the shop will also include deleting from the list the items already in the shopping cart.

Parent, remember - small kids see the world as rules, which they take word for word. If you are not buying whims, then even if the parent remembers that he/she needs to buy something important, the kid will most likely treat this as a violation of the contract or an incentive to break the rules. If your kid can count, then while shopping tell him that one product may have different prices. If it is difficult for the kid, then it is enough if the types of products on the list are the same as those actually bought. After returning home you cannot forget about the goal, which was the reason for the shopping trip.

To those who like to read we recommend some stories regarding ways to manage anger:

  • “The Want Monsters” by Ch. Manchego
  • “Złość i smok Lubomił. Zabawy i ćwiczenia pomagające zrozumieć i oswoić emocje” by W. Kołyszko and J. Tomaszewska.