Helping children understand needs versus wants

A teddy bear.

What are needs and wants? As parents, you know food and shelter are needs and sports cars are wants. Your children aged 6 to 10 may not know how to differentiate needs from wants; and, understanding the in-betweens often only comes through experience.

Engage your children in these activities to help them understand the differences between needs and wants.

Identifying needs and wants

Ask your child to make a list of all the things they’d need to enjoy a picnic. Their list could include everything from a tasty sandwich to a Frisbee. Then, help them identify which items are needs and which are wants. You can do this for sleepovers, birthday parties or any occasion. They’ll carry this important lesson into adulthood, where it can help them make better spending decisions.

Talk bank accounts

CIBC studyabout the average age kids develop a relationship with their bank. Opens a new window in your browser. found that 10 is the average age kids develop a relationship with their bank by opening their first bank account. At this age, kids want to show they’re grown up. A bank account in their name says “I’m becoming independent”. With your help, they can watch their money accumulate and set goals along the way.

The birthday money challenge

Do you remember what it felt like when you received birthday money? It was the perfect excuse to buy yourself something. Your kids likely feel the same way — so let them indulge. First, encourage them to deposit a portion of the money into their savings account — use fractions to decide how much. They can spend the remainder on something special.

Penny and Paddy Penguin building a sand castle.

A trip to the grocery store 

Your kids can learn a lot about needs and wants at the grocery store. The aisles are filled with temptations. If you have time, explain to your kids why some things are worth buying and others not. At the checkout, guess how much the bill will be, watch the cashier work, and pay the groceries together.

You know your children best. Tailor these activities to your family’s needs; add them to your playtime and remember to have fun!

Open a CIBC bank account with your children

Visit your local CIBC Banking Centre with your children to open up a bank account. You can also set up a meeting onlineOpens a new window in your browser. to avoid waiting. A CIBC Advantage® for Youth bank account has many benefits for kids under 18 years of age:

  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Competitive interest rates
  •  A CIBC Advantage Debit Card®
  • Free record-keeping options for budgeting and to track spending. 

To increase your children’s savings, you can also set up an automated payment or transfer funds directly into their CIBC Advantage for Youth bank account.