Teaching Kids Delayed Gratification in an Instant Gratification World

It’s downright hard being parents in today’s world.

Instant messages, instant likes, social media, “I want that” or “Can I have this”, toys in meal boxes, and every kid winning an award or trophy in a sporting event.  I mean, really?  How on earth can we as parents have our “game face” on all the time, and teach our kids that life isn’t really like that.  Things, wants or desires don’t happen or appear in an instant!  Not everyone gets to win, there are losers in a game.

First and foremost, you should know I am not “on” it all the time.  I fail miserably at the parenting job.  My kids will gladly testify to that as well.  I’m a 40++++ (count the plus signs)  something mom with 3 young kids, and I rarely get it right!

But I do know, that it’s vitally important to teach my kids that things in life do not come instantaneously!

Just because they want it, doesn’t mean they’ll get it.

People, Parents and yes, even our kids must work and save for things they want.  This type of mindset is almost becoming obsolete.

Teaching Kids Delayed Gratification in an Instant Gratification World

Growing up, my dad taught us with all that he had to save money.  Every year we would save our money, change, tooth fairy money, Christmas and Birthday money in a big coffee can.  Every spare coin went into that can!  The week before we headed out to our vacation we would literally dump all the money out on the dining room table, and begin rolling all of those coins we had saved.  (Back then they didn’t have those change counting machines!  Remember I’m 40++++)  Every vacation without fail – we would get to spend that money that we had saved throughout the year on whatever we wanted!  As long as it wouldn’t cause bodily harm, that is.

Delayed Gratification at it’s finest!  Really and truly some of my most favorite memories growing up came out of that can of saved money.

Ice Cream for breakfast, donuts for dinner.  Small toys along the way, boogie board rentals – you name it – it was ours.

All us kids shared the same money from the same can.  It was distributed evenly.

Well, guess what???  This concept has gone #FULLCIRCLE with my kids!  And I positively love that they are learning delayed gratification!  The only thing different is that we are taking our bag full of money to our bank, that counts the coins in the machine for free.  😉
I used to hate rolling all those coins!

I posted about this idea on my instagram stream a few weeks back and someone asked me, what if my kids wanted a toy before vacation would I allow them to get it?  My reply to that is, no.  Not with this money.  But yes, we would work out a “deal” so that they could work towards getting a toy they were wanting.

Do we buy toys for our kids???  YES!  We most certainly do.  But we truly *try* to base it on achievement or goals reached.  For example, our oldest has wanted a fishing pole for the past 3 months.  We told him if he did well in school for the next 3 months we would buy him one to use while on Summer break!  Our goal and purpose as parents is not “just to buy toys.”  It’s to teach our kids the value of money, and the work that is required to actually pay for toys.  Or that somethings  (toys) need to be earned.

Do my kids want toys when we go the store – YEP!  Do they whine & complain that I’m not buying them “something – anything” just so they can have it – YEP!  But I will say it’s become a whole lot better since they are starting to understand the concept of money.

We personally use our debit card to pay for almost everything.  But lately we have noticed, that we can’t teach our kids the value of money with a dumb plastic debit card.  Heck our country is struggling on this very concept itself.  (But that’s a whole different post – but not on this blog)  So we have tried to carry more cash, and give them the opportunity to pay, count the money, count the change etc.  Because they will never learn by a plastic card.  I could say so much right now & how our society has become instant on so many levels.  I know everyone that is reading this, understands all the levels I’m thinking of.  But our next generation(s) have got to learn that delayed is sometimes or even most of the time better.  You work for it, you wait for it, you earn it.

Please do not get me wrong.  I want things all the time.  Like crazy.  But right now, in this very season of my life I am wanting something so badly, more than I have ever wanted something in my whole life, but I am having to wait on it.  It’s completely out of my hands, and if I get it, it will be that much sweeter.  Because of the wait.

That sweetness, is what I am trying to teach my kids.  That delayed gratification that is pure sugar once you get it & can use it – nothing can compare to it!  *THAT* is what I want my kids to learn.

I’m sure you all have heard Miranda Lambert’s new song???


Well, if you haven’t – here it is!  It’s so true & perfect for what I’m trying to say in regards to delayed gratification.



Leave a Reply