How to teach your kid the difference between ‘Needs’ and ‘Wants’ – Times of India


Children are innocent souls who need the right guidance and role models in life. While they are pure at heart, they usually fail to see the bigger picture and make decisions that are highly unproductive and unnecessary. Especially in terms of understanding the difference between things that are necessary and that which are led by desire, often there is a lack of vision and clarity. In such situations, parents must intervene and help their kids prioritize what they need over what they want.


Needs vs Wants: What’s the difference?


‘Needs’ are triggered by a sense of urgency. For instance, food, shelter, clothing are all things that are necessary and people cannot do without these basic amenities. On the contrary, ‘wants’ are everything that one desires but can be done without. Of course, there are certain things that can be listed down under food, shelter and clothing, but it may not be necessary or urgent at all. For instance, luxury clothing, big houses and junk foods are all a by-product of what one wants and desires and not what one needs.

That said, determining what you need and want can be difficult and for children it can be all the more challenging. Therefore, here are some ways you can teach your kid the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’.


Set an example

As a parent, you must first be a role model to your kid. Instead of spending on less important things, teach your kid the importance of immediate needs over desirable items. Show them how you can keep your personal wants aside to make ends meet for the others and the family.

Teach your kids the value of hard work –
First and foremost, your child should understand the value of hard earned money. Do not give your child everything they ask for. Instead make them earn it through different reward systems. Whenever you can, give them the opportunity to earn their money and then give them the choice to invest it in what they want.

Help them understand what living on a budget means –

Surely your kid is too young to get into the budget business. But making them aware of how you run your family on a budget will only make them more conscious and aware of their spendings.

Make them prioritize –

When it comes to understanding the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, prioritizing is extremely crucial. Your child may think they need everything they desire, but it is your job as a parent to help them differentiate between what they need and what they wish for.

Do not limit needs to ‘things’

When we think of what we need, we usually direct our minds towards material things and benefits. However, while helping your kid understand the idea of ‘needs’, you must also teach them how it is not just confined to the idea of things and objects. Needs can constitute anything ranging from emotional support, to activities to of course material things too.

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