A photo of a child who is very much regretting pestering for that hat.
As a parent, you have likely been schooled on the idea that pester power -- which effectively means “kids wanting stuff and asking for it, repeatedly” -- is something you are never meant to give into. Instead of succumbing to your child’s impulses for purchases, you’re meant to be a dignified adult, shake your head in denial, and insist that they wait until their birthday or Christmas for a treat.
That’s how you should react, anyway. An awful lot of parenting contains shoulds, doesn’t it?
Whoever gives this kind of advice is clearly in possession of divine patience; nothing else explains such a constant calm, rational response. For us mere mortals, it’s sometimes completely reasonable to give in to pester power-- and maybe that’s completely okay…
When You’re Stressed and Tired
Sometimes, you need a break. No one -- literally no one, no matter how many sanctimonious social media posts they write -- is the perfect parent at all times. No one. If you’re exhausted or stressed and your child wants to buy something that will distract them from nagging you, then giving in is a 100 percent legitimate parenting tactic.
The chances of your child becoming a delinquent because of this one moment are non-existent, so feel free to ignore anyone who tells you different.
When They Want Something Beneficial
What if your child is pestering you for a book? Aren’t kids… meant to read? So giving them a book is bad in this scenario… or is it okay because of what they want?
Trying to navigate your way through the above moral maze is nigh-on impossible, so we’ll do it for you: buy the book. If your kid wants to read, that’s good for them and it’s good for you. Buy the book. By all means buy the book using a 15% off Wonderbly code so you can tell yourself you’ve at least made one sensible decision, but otherwise, go for it. If you don’t, you may find yourself looking back in future and wondering why you didn’t seize the possibility of your child actually sitting still and being quiet for awhile.
When You Can Afford It
Let’s be honest, despite all the tantrums and moments of mild despair, parenting is pretty ace. What’s the harm in wanting your kids to have the nicer things in life?
The truth is that there are far worse things to teach your kids than a lesson that is effectively: “if you really want something and make a good case for it, you can have it”. That’s all pester power is, really. You’re not going to give in to your child’s every whim -- unless you unexpectedly become a millionaire overnight, which would admittedly be welcome -- so there’s no harm in the occasional treat. It’ll buy you a few hours of respite from the usual chaos and put a smile on your child’s face. Win/win.
So sure, go ahead and decline when your child picks up a screwdriver in a hardware store and asks if they can have it-- but if you want to indulge them in a sensible child-friendly wouldn’t-lead-to-the-house-being-dismantled gift, then go for it.