Developing life skills through shopping

Often times parents and older kids may not see eye to eye on budget or holiday present choices. This is a great time to start conversations with your kids and help them to learn important life skills that they will need in the future.

The first life skill needed to make a shopping trip successful is planning. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The first life skill needed to make a shopping trip successful is planning. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Shopping with children and teens can be stressful and not seeing eye-to-eye can make the experience even more difficult for those involved. Michigan State University Extension believes that there are ways to make these experiences run more smoothly, including incorporating lifeskills in the shopping experience. The first life skill needed to make a shopping trip successful is planning. Planning is a method of doing something that has been thought out ahead of time. Shopping is a great activity that can use a lot of planning and organizing.  Sitting down with your child and developing a plan on what stores they would like to shop at and who they will be buying for is a great first step. Developing a list of gift ideas for each person they are shopping for will also make the trip less stressful and overwhelming.

Budgeting may be one of the most important life skills that youth can develop when shopping around the holidays. Developing a budget and talking about money with your kids is very important. Explaining to them that there are limits on how much to spend on each present and what those limits that might be. Have an envelope for each person you are shopping for and put the budgeted amount of money in each envelope. That way when you find an item to purchase, they can see if it stays within the amount in the envelope. It is also important to talk to them about added sales tax or sales that might reduce the price of items.

Another life skill that youth need to learn during this time of year is self-discipline. Many times we are in the store and kids find some great deals for things for themselves. It can be hard to not use the money they have budgeted for dad on themselves. Talking to your kids about giving and helping others feel good can help them make the choice to be self-disciplined. 

Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program is helping youth develop life skills through 4-H programs around the state. If you are interested in learning how to get your children involved in 4-H, visit your local MSU Extension Office.