Let kids feel the impact of their decisions at the mall

Tweens and teens love to go to the mall and hang out. A mall is an ideal hangout place for tweens and teens- mingle, mix, shop, eat, laugh, see and be seen. Tweens and teens live for the mall. Allow them that freedom and to learn to spend and shop within limits and their budget. Tweens and teens can learn the natural and logical consequences of their spending decisions.

Tweens and teens love to go to the mall independently. It’s a fairly safe venue to practice independence, spend wisely and have fun with their friends.

“Owen called from the mall and said, ‘Dad, would you bring me money?'” said a friend at a party, when parents kibbitz about our favorite subject — kids.”I had dropped him off at a friend’s house and didn’t know he was going to the mall. Now he wanted one of us to drive 20 miles each way to deliver the money. I said, ‘Hit your friends up for a loan.'”

Hurray to Dad for setting a boundary and encouraging his only child, age 13, to solve his problem and learn better planning. With an only child, it’s easy to fall into the trap of indulgence because you have the time and money, and want to avoid guilt, the parental poison.

It’s okay to say “No” and allow him to learn from poor planning. It falls under “natural consequences,” also known as “giving him enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.”

The little “burns” of an empty pocket and asking for a loan, teach tweens and teens to take responsibility and better manage their affairs.

Avoid undermining the lesson by saying, “I told you so.” Asking questions or I-messages will preserve the relationship. “I was surprised you were going to the mall. Did you know that was the plan?” Or, “My Dad taught me to always leave home with money in my pocket, just in case.”

Teens can revel in the the freedom of independence and the responsibility that goes with those first mall expeditions. It’s an excellent opportunity to make spending decisions, and find out which friends can be counted on to share their resources.

A true “natural consequence” means that parents do not have to interfere with one of the most powerful teaching tools. If needed, encourage kids by saying, “I bet you can solve that problem,” or  “Do you have any ideas?” or “Ask someone for a few bucks.”

You can do it. So can your kids.

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3 Comments on “Let kids feel the impact of their decisions at the mall”

  1. erin Says:

    I will probably need this advice sooner than I realize. Good to start thinking about it now!


  2. “Enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.” I love that. I am prepping myself now so that as my daughter ages (currently 17 months) I do not interfere with the natural consequences of her actions. I am going to have a hard time not saying “I told you so.”

    I just finished Raising Able. Excellent read.

  3. raising able Says:

    Put “I told you so” in the same category of sarcasm and losing your temper with kids because they are all connection-busters.


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