My eight years old son, wants what his friend has

Alma - posted on 10/31/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My son wants the toys that his friend from school has. He told me that his toys are fake, that he doesn't have originals. His friend told him that. I'm a low income mom and I can not buy expensive toys or take him to trips like his friends. Can someone advise me how to talk to him and explain our situation? Need help please.

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Chet - posted on 11/01/2014

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First, I would acknowledge how your son feels. Everyone wishes for things they can't have sometimes. It's okay to sympathise with your son some, and to allow him to talk about his frustrations with this.

Second, don't take this too personally. If you're sensitive about your financial situation, and concerned about how much you can give your son, his comments might sting more. This is a very normal kid thing though. No matter how much money a family has the grass can always sometimes look greener on the other side of the fence from time to time. Our kids go to school with some extremely poor children and still find plenty of things to admire or occasionally envy.

Next. I would point out to you son that this is part of why it's fun to go to friends' houses. They have different toys than you do. Everybody can't have all of the same things.

Also, I think you can talk about how he feels about his toys. Talk about opinions, and how different people don't always agree. If he likes his toys that's what matters, and if he doesn't like, or use, some of his toys any more you can talk about what to do with them.

You could talk about friends too. It should be fun to play with your friends. Friends shouldn't make you feel bad every single time you see them. Don't tell him this boy is a bad friend, just encourage him to think about the quality of their friendship.

With an 8 year old I probably wouldn't get into a lot of detail about the household budget. A lot of 8 year olds don't really have the math skills to grasp a budget yet, and some kids can get really worried about their parents finances if you give them too much information too early. At 8, I think a discussion of needs versus wants would be fair. You can discuss the things you need and why, and how needs must come first, and how there isn't a lot of money left over for things you want so you have to choose carefully.

If there is something your son really wants, and you think it would be something that he would honestly use and enjoy, you can help him to start saving for that thing. Check around to see if you can find the item used or refurbished. It can be a very valuable experience to set a financial goal and work towards it - even if it's just with loose change.

You could look around for toy lending programs too. Some libraries have them, and some communities have actual toy specific libraries. Toy libraries often have a membership fee, but it's usually quite low. In the US there is also a lego kit lending service you can sign up - I'm not sure what it costs though.

Lastly, our kids have travelled, and done, quite a lot. One thing I can tell you is that there is no real correlation between cost and fun.

We splash out on stuff sometimes, and take the kids to big shows or concerts or events. They like it, but they like free movies in the park too. They had a lot of fun at Disneyland, but they're kids and they have a lot of fun at community events with free bouncer castles and face painting too. I can't tell you how often we go on a big trip, and their favourite part is some minor thing that we could have done at home.

Trips and toys are nice, but they aren't exactly what our kids seem to be remembering from their childhood. They remember trips, but we go to NYC or Boston and they remember getting to make pancakes at the hotel breakfast, or playing at a playground, or finding a piece of scrap metal on the side walk by a construction site. The trips are nice, but not so significant that a parent who can't do them should feel guilty.

Ev - posted on 10/31/2014

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Maybe you should also sit down with your son and show him the budget and where the money goes. Explain that bills such as rent, utilities, and food need to come first before extra things like toys can be bought. Also tell him and maybe show him that you make only so much money.

Guest - posted on 10/31/2014

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Aren't ALL toys "fake"? I mean, a toy is a fake kid version of something else, right? An action figure is a fake model of a super hero, a nerf gun is a fake gun, and so on...I don't understand how you can have a "fake toy."

How often does this kid come over to play with your son? It sort of sounds like he is one of those types that equates his self worth with his financial worth--those people are always so sad--If they aren't close, I would just stop inviting him over. Who wants to hang out with someone so negative anyway?

If my income were limited, I would focus more on travel anyway. My son is 9, about the time he was seven, he lost interest in most toys aside from Lego blocks and his bike anyway. At that age, they don't really need many toys, just get him the few he is really interested and let him fill the rest of his time with imaginative play--it is better for brain development anyway.

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