Teaching Children to Shop


For parents and children, one of the big transitions in life is the switch from parents buying all of their children’s clothing to their children making those decisions for themselves. Without the proper guidance, children might become overwhelmed at the options and prices they find when shopping by themselves for the first time. Parents, on the other hand, might be worried with what their child will choose to buy and how much they will spend. Training children on how to shop for themselves before this transition can be a way to calm both the parent and the child. Here are a few tips for helping kids start making their own clothing decisions.

Setting an example for children allows them to learn in an experiential way that might be more clear in their minds. While shopping with your child, explain to them why you buy or do not buy certain items. In addition to learning what clothing is considered appropriate in their family, they will form a framework for how you shop and learn when it is alright to spend a little bit more money on clothing, when they should take a cheaper option, and when they should push off the purchase to a later date.

By shopping with their child, a parent can also show them different stores with similar products at lower prices. Children can learn how to decide if something they would like to buy is overpriced by comparing the price of the same product in a different store. It is also important to explain the difference between quality and brand name. Sometimes a product has a higher price simply because of the brand name. While the brand could be important to a child in middle school or high school, parents should explain that brand name does not guarantee good quality and that the item might not last as long as a similar item of a different brand. Still, a parent might choose to let the child buy the more expensive brand to contribute to their shopping framework: when it’s alright to spend a little more money

Another lesson children can learn from shopping with their parents can be when to shop in the clearance section. Not all purchases will be made from the clearance section, but it is an excellent way to provide the brand the child wants at a more reasonable price, especially if they want a common item such as a t-shirt.

Shopping at thrift stores can also be a great way to give your child another option of where they buy their clothes. Thrift stores often sell lightly used to new clothing at incredibly affordable prices. Many shoppers choose to look in thrift stores for the items they need and often find quality clothes. For a child who is just starting to shop for themselves, thrift store shopping can encourage them to look past the brand name and focus on the quality of each item they purchase. And, with the wide selection available at most Quad Cities thrift stores, they could even find the brands they want. Shopping in the clearance section or at thrift stores contributes to another part of their shopping framework: when they should take a cheaper option.

Another important aspect to shopping is the timing of the purchase. Most items are marked down after holidays, such as Black Friday and after Christmas sales. If a child wants a certain item, a parent could try to convince them to wait until the sale so that they will be able to buy more clothes for less money. This can teach the child patience and self-control as well as how to allocate their money to maximize the amount of clothes they can buy. The child will most likely appreciate the clothing they had to wait for much more than the clothing they bought as soon as they wanted, teaching them another part of the shopping framework: when to push their purchase to a later date.

When they first start shopping for themselves, most children will have to rely solely on their parents for spending money. Setting a budget can bring peace of mind to parents who are concerned with how much their child will spend. The budget a parent chooses will set the course for how much children will think is appropriate to spend on clothing in one trip. Even though each family will have their own idea of how much should be spent, make sure the child knows this is the limit so that they will carefully consider everything they purchase that day.

The transition from parents buying their children’s clothes to children buying their own clothes happens at different ages depending on the family. Teaching children some basic tenets of shopping before they are set loose can ensure that they make good decisions while enjoying their shopping experiences.

Author: Sarah Francisco

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