Tomorrows Millionaires

Tomorrow's Millionaires - Giving “No” a Positive Association

Tomorrows Millionaires"No" can feel like a constant refrain for modern parents. Your kids are targeted with advertising nonstop. Even a walk through the grocery store can seem like running the gauntlet. By the time you get to the checkout, you might have said "no" a million times. 

If you want to make saying "no" more effective with a positive spin, consider building an association between denial and future reward. Make a promise for a small reward later if your child abides by your decision today. There's nothing radical about this advice. The trick comes in repetition and extension. As your child gets older and gains a greater awareness of time, you can begin to delay the reward. You might go from a trip to the park after shopping to a movie rental the week after. Keep the rewards small, and keep stretching the timeline. 

This strategy accomplishes two things. First, it builds an association between a perceived denial and a reward. This helps to keep your kids from seeing "no" as a punishment or a bad word. It lends credibility to your explanation about thrift and frugality. 

Second, it helps build a habit of self-denial in your child. They learn the value of delayed gratification and are less likely to indulge in an "instant gratification" society. This is a vital life skill. It's the logic behind retirement planning, saving for major purchases and other good financial habits. 

At the same time, sometimes “no” means “no,” and that’s OK, too. You want to be able to reward your child without setting up the expectation that they will always receive a reward later when being told “no” in the moment. In instances of saying “no,” it can be helpful to explain to the child why you said “no.” If it’s due to finances, be honest, as this too can help them get a better understanding of money and the fact that it doesn’t “grow on trees.” Striking a balance can be tricky, but is possible. 

You can do a number of things to set your children up for a lifetime of financial success. This simple strategy can make your life easier, as well. You can reward your child for restraining his or her impulses, and with luck, you can make it through shopping with your sanity intact.