Why My Kids Don’t Pick Out Their Own Gifts + Buying Intentionally

teach kids to buy intentionally I don’t let my kids pick out their own gifts. You might be thinking I am the #meanestmomever. But I’m not. Here’s why. I have had a long battle with clutter. I have a history of buying things I don’t need and keeping them around for far too long.

I am teaching my children to do life differently. 

In a world where we can get anything at the touch of the button, we have to teach them not to touch the button. I have finally–at 33 years old–figured out how to stop touching the button. I have learned to buy intentionally.

When I was 4.5 months pregnant with my daughter I found a gorgeous furry vest. I fell in love. I really wanted to buy it.

But I had reservations about the cute furry vest.

  • It’s hot in Texas, so it would only get 2 months of wear per year.
  • It was trendy, so I didn’t know how long I would “love” it.
  • The quality was just ok—I am not sure if it would hold up to the washing machine.
  • I was pregnant and growing everyday.

I carefully considered quality, frequency of use, and trendiness. This is called buying intentionally. I think through my purchases to make the best decision.

Kids need regular practice to learn these decision-making skills with toys. Through intentional buying we avoid bringing items into our home that will turn into clutter.

But yesterday at Target my three-year-old fell in love with this Trolls MP3 Microphone.

He’s not getting it. Ever. It’s not even going on his wish list. We aren’t going to fake pretend like it “might happen”.

Again. #meanestmomever

While my kids are still young they need my help making decisions. When you buy intentionally, it takes rather advanced reasoning skills—something my young kids don’t have yet. But we are working on it. 

Therefore, just like when shopping for the vest, I asked myself the same questions about purchasing this toy.

  1. Will he outgrow it quickly? 
  2. How long will he “love” it?
  3. Is it good quality–will it last?

We talked through these questions briefly in the store, but I ultimately made the executive decision. This toy was not going to be a part of our lives.

Because let’s get real for a minute. This Trolls Microphone would last about a week before breaking. But his interest in it would fade just as fast when the next big movie comes out. This toy has all the earmarks for a crappy toy that’s going to be in the landfill in a month.

I digress.

My kids still need my help picking out toys right now.

As they learn to make thoughtful decisions through intentional buying they will become responsible, conscious consumers. I passed on the vest because I don’t want my kids to have closets full of furry vests and Troll microphones. I am trying to lead by example–because, as parents, it starts with us. 

Want a list of 25 toys that intentional buyers can feel good about?


Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.