Here's how much parents would pay to avoid a tantrum

Instead of paying to avoid a tantrum, here’s how you can reinforce good financial behaviors with your children.

Myelle Lansat


Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

News Editor

Myelle Lansat is a news editor at Policygenius, where she writes the Easy Money newsletter and covers insurance and personal finance. Previously, she was a personal finance writer at CNBC and Acorns, and a reporter for Business Insider.

Published April 27, 2021 | 3 min read

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Moms painting with child

Parenting can be exhausting and mothers tend to take on a majority of responsibilities. One in four moms (24%) say they would pay $50 or more to avoid a tantrum or argument with their children, according to the Policygenius Parents & Money Survey. 

It may feel tempting to spend money on your kids to avoid an argument, especially heading into Mother’s Day. But your child could perceive that as getting rewarded for bad behavior, said Trae Bodge, a shopping expert and mother to a 14-year-old daughter. 

“You want to be careful about what behavior you are rewarding,” she said. “You don't want to train your kids incorrectly so if your kid throws themselves on the floor they think they’re getting money again.”  

Instead of paying to avoid a tantrum, here’s how you can reinforce good financial behaviors with your children.  

1. Set financial boundaries

As a parent you may be tempted to give your child whatever they ask for, but that’s not emotionally or financially sustainable. 

One of the simplest ways to manage your child’s expectations is to say no. Otherwise your kid is eventually going to ask for something out of your budget. 

“It’s our jobs as parents to teach our kids how to function in the real world,” said Bodge. “It will disappoint them when they’re out in the real world and struggle to pay rent or don’t have  everything they need at once.”

Talking to your children about money at an early age can help them understand financial concepts as they get older. Bodge suggests telling your kids about your job and what you’re working, said Bodge. 

“Show them why you’re sitting in front of a laptop for nine hours a day. Tell them that’s how you bring home the money you use to buy the things you need.” 

2. Give your child an allowance 

Instead of giving your child money to avoid bad behavior, give them money as a reward for good behavior like chores, said Bodge. 

Earning money, as a child or adult, gives you power over your purchases, said Bodge. She gives her daughter the option to do household chores six days a week for $5 per day. 

Having your kids work for their money instead of handing it to them because they threw a tantrum can help them save and spend wisely, said Bodge. “You have to think twice before you buy something, and those lessons can be applied to a lot of things in your adult life.”

3. Take your kids shopping 

As a parent it may be easier to get your shopping done without your kids — the last thing you want is a random tantrum in the middle of Target. However showing your children how you pay for things can deepen their understanding of how money works. 

One way you can teach your kids about the value of money is being proactive, not reactive, said Bodge. If you foresee a tantrum at the store, tell your child ahead of time they can only spend a certain amount of money. It’s even better if it’s money they’ve already earned, like their allowance, she added.

“Giving them a little money and encouraging them to buy whatever they want with that limited amount of money can help them make a more well informed choice,” said Bodge. “Instead of letting them pick out one thing at the store and they pick something that happens to be $200.”

Having good financial habits can help your kid develop good behaviors over time. “The thought process we go through when we think about money is the same for everyone,” said Bodge. “We have to stop to take a moment and reflect on what to do with that money — and that line of thinking can serve us in many ways.” 

About the survey: Policygenius used Google Surveys to poll a nationally representative sample of 1,500 parents with children under the age of 19 from March 26 through April 21, 2021.

Image: Aleksandar Nakic / Getty