Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A friend asked me how we can introduce children to the idea of limited resources, but without spoiling their enjoyment. Perhaps it's all about who makes the decisions, and when.

Often, when we give children limitations, we do it from a confrontational perspective, and at the time of most "need". For example, we may say, in front of a funfair ride: "I have no money left, so you can't go on any more rides!" A passionate argument follows. The parent is seen as the sudden resource-restricter, and the child sees themselves as a frustrated freedom fighter!

The child hasn't has a slow and timely introduction to the decision, hasn't seen the process of arriving at the decision, and hasn't participated in the decision-making process.

Maybe there are three things to bear in mind:

1. Introduce the idea of resource restriction early
2. Make the decision process a visible one, so that the child can see what's going on
3. Make the decision process participative if at all possible

For example, if you want to spend only £25, get hold of 25 £1 coins, and a little bag. Sit with the child before you go, show them the coins and the bag, and explain that all those coins are for the outing! Let them put the coins into the bag themselves. The decision has now been shared early, is entirely visible, and the child is participating - they even have their own bag of money!

One more suggestion - try to use "we" instead of "you", and show shared feeling. Instead of saying "I haven't got any money left, so you can't do any more!" - try "Oh dear! We haven't got any money left, so we can't do any more!"

Just some ideas, but hopefully helpful ones.

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