How can parents deal with ‘pester power’ from children around Christmas time?

How Can Parents Deal With ‘Pester Power’ From Children Around Christmas Time?
Dealing with children’s wish-lists can be stressful and expensive for parents. Photo: PA Images
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Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

Parents can often feel under pressure to buy their children the latest must-have toys and gadgets, but “pester power” often reaches its height around Christmas time.

Never-ending wish-lists and protestations that “all my friends have got one” can be wearing both on the mind and the wallet, and parents won’t want to feel that they are leaving their kids disappointed.


Louise Hill, co-founder and chief executive of debit card and financial learning app GoHenry says: “Pester power can be a challenge, but it can be overcome with some simple strategies and by showing your child how to make wise money choices.

“As tempting as it is to give in, especially in the run-up to Christmas, pester power doesn’t help kids learn about the value of money.

A signpost in a forest
It can be tempting to give in to your kids’ demands in the run-up to Christmas (Alamy/PA)


“In fact, it does exactly the opposite: how many of these longed-for purchases end up broken, lost or ignored within days? I used to tell my kids that they could ask for just one present from Father Christmas because he had an awful lot of presents to sort out, so to ask for more than one would be greedy!”

Here are some simple suggestions from Hill for techniques parents can use to deal with pester power and find alternatives for those often requested – and sometimes quickly forgotten – expensive gifts:

1. Give kids regular pocket money

Letting kids budget for themselves can give them a sense of responsibility with money that could last a lifetime. It will also help teach them that there is no magic money jar that can be endlessly called upon.

Hill says of giving regular pocket money: “This is a powerful way to stop kids from asking for stuff, as it gives them the ability to spend and save their own money and decide what’s important. This, in turn, helps to teach kids the value of money.”


2. Talk about wants versus needs

Peer pressure can be a particularly strong spur to children to make them think they must have a particular item. But with trends coming and going, parents can often find themselves forking out for items that end up being little-used, before kids move on to the next big thing.

Hill says: “All kids, even teens, get confused about wants and needs, mixing the two up and feeling that their wants are their needs. The more you can talk to them about this subject, with real-world examples, the better they will understand.”

3. Teach kids how to save

Proud parents watching a child play a trumpet
You could suggest your child helps save towards the cost of big gifts (Alamy/PA)


If a child wants a Christmas gift that is out of reach price-wise right now, that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

“If your child wants a Christmas gift you really can’t afford, help them set up a savings goal that will get them closer to what they want week-by-week. You could suggest they save up a certain percentage of the cost of the gift and you pay the rest. If they’re determined to save for their longed-for purchase with their own money, it’s a great way for them to flex their spending power.”

She adds: “And if they regret their purchase, they’re less likely to make the same mistake again.”

4. Give children clear signals

Parents may not want to upset children by leaving them disappointed, but if you aren’t clear, you may leave them confused, and simply end up delaying their disappointment or making the situation worse.


Hill says: “If you mean no, then be definite about it so your child understands you mean what you are saying. Giving in after you have said no, or when they cry or scream, shows them your no is always up for debate.”

5. Shop around and suggest alternatives

“Shop around at different stores and online for the best Christmas deals, and don’t just buy the first gift you see,” says Hill.

“You could also suggest alternative present ideas like Secret Santa to help keep costs low with family members only needing to buy one gift each.

“You could even go one step further and ask that everyone gives each other handmade gifts. For kids, this is a great opportunity to teach them that an inexpensive, but thoughtful gift is often much more cherished than a luxury one.”

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