This is a guest post from the wonderful GoGingham.
Shopping with teenagers isn’t always easy, but there are a few things you can do to ease the process. Between picking battles and setting rules to framing what i s needed ahead of time, this possibly painful process can be made easier – and less costly.
- Pick your battles: Pre-teens need to start making their own decisions and as parents, we need to let them, within reason. Decide what battles you’re willing to concede and which ones you’re not. When you let pre-teens and teenagers “win” with decisions, they feel in control. Our teens got to decide what length to grow their hair when they began middle school. Paying for hair-cuts, hair length, and style were completely up to them. While relatives balked at the length of our son’s hair, he was thrilled that it was his choice to grow it long. We were thrilled when several years later he finally got it cut!
- Set clear rules: With the school dress code in hand, discuss what is appropriate school attire and what’s not. Family rules that align with the school rules are most helpful. Having baseline rules spelled out before going shopping helps keep arguments from occurring when kids are headed out the door for school. No one wants the phone call from the school office that the dress code has been violated.
- Discuss spending ahead of time: Set and keep to a limit of how much you’re willing to spend on items. This helps keep shopping with teenagers, who aren’t finished growing, from overspending on the basics. My set rule is that I’ll spend a certain amount on shoes but if my teens want the upgraded, fancier version, they have to pay the difference. Buying the name brand version falls to them to decide whether it’s worth it or not.
- Review wants and needs: Making a list of wants and needs is a good habit to teach teens. There’s no telling how long you can get stuck at the mall with pre-teens or teenagers who don’t have a list in hand. Cleaning out the closet before making a list can also help. (Here are more back to school shopping tips.) Keep the shopping focus on what’s actually needed before shopping for the wants.
- Volunteer, first: Teens aren’t typically known for their thoughtfulness of others. Make an effort to get your pre-teens and teenagers into the habit of helping those in need before shopping. My teens get a trip to the mall for school clothes shopping after they’ve helped at the local clothing center. This simple act of helping those in need helps to ground teenagers. Instead of focusing on all they want and what they don’t have, this is a good reminder that there are those who have less.
There you have it. With a little planning and a set strategy the teenage shopping struggle can be made less challenging – and less expensive.