The List: My Best Parenting Tip

The List: My Best Parenting TipBefore I had kids, there were several things I said I would never let my kids do. Once I was actually a parent, however, many of the “nevers” evaporated in the reality of my day-to-day parenting challenges. My kids did occasionally end up sleeping in my bed, eating fast food, and watching too many cartoons instead of playing educational games.

However, there was one pre-parenting pet peeve that I didn’t waver on. I never wanted my kids to whine, cry, or throw a tantrum in the check-out line at a store because I wouldn’t buy them a pack of gum or a toy. All of these items, by the way, are strategically placed by the store for the very purpose of creating a tantrum so that we will purchase them for our children.

I succeeded with that one “never,” because I had a simple trick. With all my kids now well beyond the tantrum-in-the-store years, I can say that my five kids never had an in-store tantrum because I wouldn’t buy them something they wanted. Success! Now that I know it worked, I’m going to share my tip with those of you who have young kids or grandkids.

Step 1: NEVER purchase something at a store because your child asks for it, whines for it, or throws a tantrum. You will create a monster consumer who will find something to ask for in every store.

Step 2: Keep a list on a notepad in your purse or on your phone. If your child asks for something, say, “Let’s put that on the list,” and get out the list or your phone and put the item on the list right then. Once they’re old enough, let them put the item on their list by themself. Instead of asking me to purchase things, my kids would ask me if they could, “Add it to the list.” When it got close to their birthday, we looked at the list to see what they still wanted. They learned how they didn’t still want everything on the list. And that’s a good lesson about impulse purchasing.

I think “The List” is probably one of my greatest parenting successes. My children not only didn’t have the check-out line tantrums, but they also learned about delayed gratification. I hope their ability to wait for things will translate into a better ability as adults to save money for items they really want rather than incurring credit card debt due to irresponsible impulse spending, which is a problem for so many adults.

I still keep lists for my kids using the memo feature on my phone. That way, as they mention things they’d like throughout the year, I have good gift ideas for special occasions. I also keep their shoes and clothing sizes there, since they seem to change so often and these days, many of their gifts are something to wear.

I highly recommend using “The List.” It’s been a great parenting tool for me.

Let me know if you use this idea and how it works!


I'm blessed to have five great kids (ages 13-23) call me “Mom.” As a summer camp director for the past 30 years, I've also had the privilege of working with thousands of kids, college-age counselors, and parents. I follow the latest research and trends on parenting, education, and children’s development and love to share what I learn!

1 Comment
  1. Great tip – I’ve sort of been doing the same thing. Such a great feeling when my kids look at the list in the run up to Christmas/birthdays and realize how they have not only changed their mind about some things but have actually totally forgotten what some items were. Once they started having an allowance I would tell them they could get it on another visit if a) it wasn’t something that is simply not allowed in our family b) they were still thinking about it for the next couple of days c) they had enough money in the ‘spend’ or ‘save’ part of their allowance pots. Has had a great effect on their consumer impulse control as far as I can see.

Leave a Reply

Get my FREE eBook 10 Friendship Skills Every Kid Needs.

Looking to help your kids improve their social skills?
Sign up for my weekly newsletter and get a free copy of my eBook 10 Friendship Skills Every Kid Needs.

Conflict Resolution Wheel


Questions for Connection PDF


10 Friendship Skills Every Kid Needs

Looking to help your kids improve their social skills?

Sign up for my weekly newsletter and get a free copy of my eBook 10 Friendship Skills Every Kid Needs


%d bloggers like this: