How can Parents Teach Kids to Distinguish between Needs and Wants?

How can Parents Teach Kids to Distinguish between Needs and Wants?
Skilledwise 23 Jun 2022

Kids are much sharper than we anticipate. Mostly we assume that they would not absorb what we guide them but they listen to every word meticulously and analyse it.

There is a huge demarcation between needs & wants, but it is not adequately significant as many kids initially perceive. This can be especially disappointing for parents who are scrimping.

The latest research reveals that 46.0% of parents realize that one of the top most vital lessons for their kids to grasp about money was “The difference between Wants & Needs’.

Significance of grasping the difference between Needs & Wants for Kids:


Kids must absorb to demarcate between needs and wants. When they comprehend to do this, it becomes smoother to budget money and they absorb priorities. Almost everyone has the same fundamental needs but how they tackle those needs is something different.

Needs are things that are mandatory to possess to survive. Often wants are misidentified with needs. Some needs and wants don’t cost any money at all. We all demand air but we don’t have to pay for it.

Grasping the difference between a need and a want is also the key to formulating real money skills. They’ll also comprehend how to save for what matters the most to them on their priority list!

Different between Needs and Wants: Simpler Reading for Kids






Needs denote a person's necessities that must be fulfilled, to live.

Wants are the commodities and services, which a person likes or desires to possess, as a part of his fancies.




What is it?

Something mandatory for you.

Something you desire to possess.




For Existence




May stand persistent over time.

May differ over time.


The consequence could be an onset of disease or even death.

The consequence may be merely a disappointment.

Tips to teach the distinction to your kids:

Enforce-your-kids Enforce your kids

Mostly parents undertake the responsibility for various needs, educate your kids to undertake the responsibility of paying for their wants. Let kids meet the cost of their toys or the latest gadgets. It enforces them to draw their conclusions and save money to spend as they deem fit.

If your kids receive pocket money, consider allocating them a monthly amount instead of a daily/weekly basis. This way, they’ll also comprehend how to draw their budget for what they want over a longer-term.

Enroot-your-kids-in-the-value-of----toiling Enroot your kids in the value of toiling

Your kids must understand the value of hard-earned money. Do not render your kids “EVERYTHING THEY DEMAND”. Rather, instruct them to earn it through various reward schematics. Whenever possible, offer them the opportunity to earn their money and then extend them the options to invest it in what they want.

Help them comprehend what surviving on a budget means, of course, your kids are too young to absorb the budget business. But making them comprehend the basics of how you run your family on a budget will only turn them more mindful and aware of their spending.

Instill-the-habit-of-Wait Instill the habit of “Wait”

Global culture has turned into one of not just ease, but of immediate gratification. Even for kids who have not yet become active customers, the impacts are profound. What they desire, they want it now. This is exactly why waiting is so essential.

Instruct your kids to withstand a one-week or more, as required, waiting period between contemplating a purchase and making that purchase. If you instruct them to wait for a week or more and then analyze if they still want it, they might realize they’re no longer as interested in it after one week. By witnessing such an experience, your kids will acquire a tangible example of how an impulsive “WANT” is “NOT A NEED.”

Discuss-the-Grocery-List Discuss the Grocery List

When your kids turn 8, they are probably ready to initiate learning a few more elements about ‘Wants v/s “Needs”. If your kids regularly accompany you to the grocery store, this is a smart exercise to do.

If they can read, hand over the grocery list and pick those products/commodities to them as needed. As you walk through the walkways and pick up various things, question your kid(s) if it’s “a Need OR a Want.” Explain to them if it’s on the list, it’s a “Need”, if it’s not, it’s a “Want.”

Never-limit-Needs-to-Things Never limit Needs to “Things”

When we analyze what we need, we usually focus our minds on material things and gains. However, while aiding your kid(s) comprehend the theory of “Needs”, you must also imbibe them how it is not merely limited to the concept of things & objects. Needs can comprise anything from emotional endorsement to elements of course material things also.

You-must-learn-to-Say-No You must learn to “Say No”

It’s tough to turn down your kid’s every demand that they desire, but rendering them everything demanded won’t offer them any benefits. On the contrary, overindulging your kid could lead to materialism, which studies identify as reduced life contentment and elevated rates of depression.

Regardless they demand a new toy or are pleading for a new gadget/gold ring etc., saying “NO” at times will make them recollect that they don’t need those things.

Don’t-pander-to-tantrums Don’t pander to tantrums

The most convenient way to conclude a tantrum is to give in. Deplorably, that is also an assured practice to deeply enroot the behavior. Kids hardly give up tantrums, they just re-design it to fit age-appropriate behaviors. It is best to cut off at an early stage. Stay assured to never give in to tantrums. Hence, leave the shop without the habitual “OK FINE, BUY IT!”

Comport-the-same Comport the same

Kids absorb what they observe and imitate their parents’ activities. Therefore, it is smart to act in a particular way and take updated decisions to educate your kids. Never overspend when they accompany you while shopping and keep luxurious things out of their view. You should even refrain from such unnecessary expenses for some time to instil in the teens the demarcation between “Want & Needs.”


Educating kids about the demarcation between Needs & Wants is not an easy job. It may involve years before kids learn how to differentiate between the two. During that time bracket, there may be peevishness in a shop and frustrated faces in the backseat of the car. While you are improbable to gain any appreciation for your efforts in the present time, it will enroot a lesson that may navigate them out of trouble in coming times.

Keeping in view the above dialogue, it’s established that needs and wants are distinct elements, that drive actions for satisfaction. If needs are not fulfilled on time, the existence of an individual is in jeopardy whereas wants are something desired or yearned, which a person is urging for, that does not endanger an individual’s survival if not satisfied.