Grandchildren know how to get what they want -- they nag.
Here's what grandparents can do to gain control over the nagging and teach valuable lessons about money.

The Center for a New American Dream published a survey about kids and nagging. The poll found the typical child aged 12 to 17 asked his parents to buy a desired item nine times before the parents gave in.

The fact that kids pester their parents, and grandparents, for stuff shouldn’t be any surprise. The fact that it works should give us pause.

While we’re pausing, here are some of the survey’s other findings:
• 55% of the 750 kids surveyed said they could usually get their grandparents to relent, even after the folks had said no.
• 11% of those aged 12 to 13 admitted they bugged their elders 50 times or more to get something they’d seen advertised.
• Four in 10 say they know in advance when their grandparents will say no – and they ask anyway.
Not surprisingly, the center – which promotes responsible consumption and fights commercialism – blamed advertisers who are increasingly, and successfully, targeting children.

The ball is in your court

Money experts who have kids, however, dump the responsibility right back in the parents’ laps.

“Kids need to know what the rules are,” said Janet Bodnar, who has three children and who wrote “Mom, Can I Have That?” and “Dr. Tightwad’s Money-Smart Kids.” “If they keep nagging and you keep giving in,” she said, “then the rules don’t mean anything “

At the risk of stating the obvious, letting your grandkids nag you for stuff is a bad idea three times over:
• It’s bad for your budget. Every dollar spent on some quickly-discarded, cheesy plastic whatever is a dollar that’s not available for your grandkid’s college education, your next family vacation or your own retirement.
• It’s bad for your sanity. Nobody likes to be nagged, and you don’t need the stress of being bugged for whatever advertisers are pushing this week.
• It’s bad for your grandkid. Little Tyler doesn’t learn much about responsible money management when you’re in whine-and-capitulate mode.
Steve Rhode, co-founder of the Myvesta debt-counseling service in Rockville, Md., and parent of a 15-year-old, has some sympathy for both grandparents and kids. Rhode, 42, believes it’s a much more material world today than when he was a child. Kids develop fashion sense earlier, thanks to advertising, and spend more time in commercial settings such as malls. That’s part of the reason that kids now influence $300 billion in purchasing decisions, up from $50 billion 20 years ago.

Grandparents also are busier, and may buy their kids things as a way for making up for not spending as much time as they would like with their grandkids.

Bodnar, who is also a columnist for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, adds that it’s pretty tough to completely counteract peer pressure and the desire to own the “right stuff.”

Grandparents must set the limits

“You’ll always have to buy them some of the things that other kids have,” says Bodnar, whose oldest child is in college, “but you don’t have to buy them everything.”

It’s up to grandparents to set limits, Rhode and Bodnar agree. Those who have succumbed to childish pressure in the past may have to work particularly hard at making sure the new rules get enforced.

“Just saying no is not going to stop it,” Rhode says. “You’ve got to have an alternative.”

When Rhode’s daughter wants something, for example, he offers her opportunities to make extra money around the house in addition to doing her regular chores. The money must be earned in advance and saved for the purchase – an excellent way to teach both deferred gratification and the importance of saving to get what you want.

For the past couple of years, Rhode’s daughter has also been in charge of her own back-to-school clothes purchases. She’s given a budget, and it’s up to her to make it work. Rhode said the girl has learned to be a pretty good bargain shopper.

In Bodnar’s house, negotiation and limits are the rule.

“We’ll say, we can get the designer shirt you want, but you have to get regular jeans,” Bodnar says. “We also have a $50 sneaker rule. If (the desired footwear costs) more than that, they have to make up the difference.”

More strategies that teach money lessons

Another popular tactic is offering “matching funds” for big purchases – if your grandchild can save half the money for a new bike, for example, you match it with the other half.

Of course, sometimes “no” will have to mean “no” – when the grandchild asks for something that you don’t approve of, or that’s not within the family’s budget. Again, firmness is the key, the experts say.

“They’re just testing you,” Bodnar says. “They need to hear, ‘No, we’re not going to get that and here’s why.’ “

Your job will be easier if you can counteract the advertising your grandchild is bombarded with daily on the tube, on the Internet and even at school. The Center for a New American Dream has a brochure called “Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture” that offers some suggestions:
• Limit television and computer time, and keep these ad machines in public areas where you can keep an eye on them.
• Mute the television during commercials, or . . .
• Talk with your grandchild about how the marketing pitches are trying to influence their decisions.
Once they know what to look for, grandkids can be pretty quick to spot inflated claims and hidden messages. The more they know about how marketing works, the less influence it may have on their lives.

Still, Rhode and Bodnar say the key to outwitting the advertisers, and stopping the whining, is consistent parenting. And that shouldn’t mean consistently giving in.

Author's Bio: 

Denny Strecker shows families how to teach their children the "Life Skills" that society expects but that no one teaches them. These skills include self confidence, self discipline, time management, leadership and listening.

You can learn more by visiting his web site