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Silly Bandz: To buy or not to buy?

Categories: Balancing Act, Money, Parenting & Family


I am probably behind the times because the first time I heard the words “silly bands” was about two weeks ago, when my daughter asked me why she didn’t have them. I asked her what she meant and she told me that EVERYONE in her kindergarten class had silly bands and she really wanted some. I truly had no idea what she was talking about but she did her best to describe them to me. It wasn’t immediately clear why “rubber bands which are different colors and some are sparkly and some smell funny and they are really cool” was such a special thing that everyone had it, but I told my daughter that she didn’t have them because I’d never seen them before.

“Well, can you please get me some, mama?” she asked, eagerly, “because I really really really want some.”

This isn’t the first time that our kiddo has come home asking for something she saw other kids playing with or eating. I get it, it’s totally normal. When it’s a fairly unreasonable request, like say, Oreos every day for lunch or sneakers without laces when she already has a perfectly good pair for this year (albeit with laces), it’s easy to decide what to do (sorry, kiddo, but no.) But most of her requests are not unreasonable at all, including the one for some of these silly bands. I was buying a birthday gift for one of her friends a few days after she asked for the bands and saw a huge display of them in the store. A few bucks for a pack of colorful rubber bands didn’t seem like a big deal but I paused: Should I be getting her something just because (1) she wants it and (2) she wants it because everyone else in the class has it?

I’ve written here before about my constant vigilance to make sure that we’re not raising an entitled spoiled kid and in general, I feel like we strike a decent balance between saying no and saying yes. But when it comes to requests that are heavily influenced by what her friends have at school, I find that I hesitate more than at other times. I want her to understand that just because others have something doesn’t mean that she has to have it — silly bands today, fancy jeans/cars/houses tomorrow. But I also don’t want to overdo it: Just because her friends have something shouldn’t mean that she can’t have it.

I got her a package of Silly Bandz and she was thrilled when I gave them to her. A few days later she “casually” mentioned that a few friends had “TONS!” of them and she only had a few, to which I responded with raised eyebrows, my universal sign to her that this isn’t going to be a successful argument to make. (The following day she told me that one of her friends didn’t have any Silly Bandz and she gave her one of hers. I’m not going to hide the fact that I was totally proud.)

How do you deal with your kids asking for stuff that their friends have? Where do you draw the line between not spoiling them too much and not giving them too little?


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7 comments so far...

  • “Oh, you want that? OK, that costs $____. You can buy that once you have $____. You can earn $____ by gathering XX buckets of leaves and stuff in the yard. You can get started as soon as you want, just let me know.”

    SKL  |  June 14th, 2010 at 2:17 am

  • I initially bought my 8 year old son a pack. He has asked for additional bands recently and he has agreed to do a certain extra job around the house to earn the silly banndz. This is in addition to his regular household tasks like feeding the dog and picking up his toys. He agreed to do a closet organization for me. It was a big task and he definitely earned them. I do think he will think twice next time though when asking me to buy him things. I think he realized that they weren’t totally worth the work!

    Sharon  |  June 14th, 2010 at 6:45 am

  • All of my kids have them — I love that there’s a collectible/tradable that appeals to my teens and my preschoolers at the same time. I also love that my little kids trade them with their friends… in fact, I bought my 5-year-old and 3-year-old each a pack because their friends had shared so many with them, I wanted them to be able to reciprocate. My 5-year-old has already given most of them away “to friends who don’t have any yet,” and my 3-year-old checks her wrists and dips into his own stash to share. So, in this case, for me, it was worth feeding the gimme gimmes because the larger lesson — sharing, trading, sociability, etc. — was worth reinforcing.

    Thanks for bringing this up, Nataly!

    Lylah  |  June 14th, 2010 at 8:21 am

  • If it is something small, I might buy some to dole out later as a reward for her doing something extra well, or for surprisingly good behavior.
    Larger things come along with “isn’t it great that your birthday (or Christmas depending on the time of year) is coming up? That’s something you can put on your wish list.”

    Mich  |  June 14th, 2010 at 8:44 am

  • My father had a similar approach to SKL’s. If we wanted something, he’d say, “Great. If you save for half, I’ll match the other half.” That way, we had plenty of time during the saving-up time to decide how much we really wanted X thing. Often, we would lose interest by the time we had saved enough. We’ve used that same approach with our daughter and it’s helpful because it teaches 3 important life lessons: delayed gratification, thriftiness and separating wants from needs.

    Jeannie  |  June 15th, 2010 at 6:39 am

  • I am so glad you posted this article. My three-year-old son pointed them out to me at the store the other day and I had absolutely no idea what they were or what he was talking about. Eventually I gathered that “everyone” in his preschool has them and he’d sort of like some. This was the first time that he has asked for anything that other kids at school have and I was totally flustered. I said no and he dropped it, but since then I’ve been playing it over in my head and wondering if I should reconsider. We’ve been looking for small items to reward good behavior at home and I’m thinking these would work great!

    Heather  |  June 16th, 2010 at 1:27 pm

  • well…for my daughter, silly bandz are dead, she gave them all to her cousin.
    NOW>>>>>> it’s FIBI RINGZ, I have to admit,,,they are much cuter

    gene  |  July 19th, 2010 at 3:10 pm