My 2nd Grader Asked For A Phone!

2nd graders getting phonesSchool has been back in session for about 5 weeks now, and second grade is fantastic for the most part. However, I had and interesting conversation with my 7 year old a few weeks ago. I expected it at some point, just not so soon. Yes, my 2nd grader has already asked for a phone!

It’s Not The Students

From being casual observer parents plus all of Jim’s insight as a teacher and principal over the past 14 years, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the students who have problems. It’s the parents!

From the kid in my daughter’s class who brings a Starbuck’s iced coffee drink every morning to the parent who yelled at one of Jim’s teachers because the class policy is healthy snacks only, there are some real winners out there. (Lady with the kid having Doritos for breakfast, I’m talking to you!)  I try really hard not to judge, but come on people.

My bottom lip must have hit the floor when our daugher told us about one of her friends who has a phone she brings to school. To be fair, I have no idea what kind, but it is a working cell phone. Is there any reason why a 2nd grader would need a phone? Can’t drive. Too young to go on road trips for sports or activities. The only thing I can think would be if she has to go home to an empty house, but even then, wouldn’t you leave the phone at home?

But All My Friends Have One

I never want to be the cool parent or the friend parent, but it’s really hard to try and tell a 7 year old why she can’t do or have something when she sees kids who do or have the exact thing every day.

I remember my Mom saying something like, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” It drove me nuts, but I get the point now. It’s normal to want what other kids have. I don’t think brains are developed enough at age 7 to know that what your friends have might be ridiculous.

Jim and I told our daughter that she really doesn’t need a phone at this point in life and that seemed to be the end of the conversation. I don’t think she even wants or knows how to use one. She was just trying to be like her friend.

What To Do When Your Child Asks To Spend Money

I don’t think it’s good to always control your kid’s money. We are trying to let her choose what to buy within reason. We’ve told her that if she wants to partake in all these rip off valuable school fundraisers, she’ll have to use her own money. I know that may sound harsh, but it’s never too early to learn that lesson.

Just this month, there was a Scholastic book order that came home, a spirit stick (another stupid school fundraiser) sale, and a PTA book fair the following week. Of course, our daughter wanted to do them all.

Show Me The Money

Since we agreed not to touch her savings in the bank, she had $5 in liquid cash. The 2 Scholastic books she wanted cost $12. I told her if she wanted $7, she could either do extra work or sell something from her closet. She did both and made $10.

She then decided to buy the books from Scholastic and save $3 for the book fair. She said she really doesn’t need a spirit stick after coming to the conclusion that she just can’t do everything the school offers.

I also showed her how we could buy books on Ebay for about $1 each, and I reminded her we could go to the library for free. She did not choose either of those options, but at least they are out there.

It’s Really Hard To Follow Through

Before I congratulate myself on having such a financially savvy 7 year old, I have to admit that on the morning of the spirit stick sale, we did have tears. Something to the effect of, “I really, really want a spirit stick, waaaaaah!” I really, really wanted to just fork over $1, but I held firm. She was out of money, and we can’t buy things we can’t pay for. Amazingly, she lived through the day and it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

I think a big part of her want is just to be like the other kids who bring money to buy things at school. I’m sure this will be an ongoing struggle. I also don’t want to give her a complex where she worries about the cost of every little thing.

In this case, it probably took more effort to sell a princess costume on Ebay and come up with extra chores to make money than it would have to write a check and be done with it. All in all, we’re talking less than $20. Don’t we already spend $40 a month on dance lessons and way more than that to take trips? Yes, but we value those things and they are well planned.

If I give $20 today, what will pop up next week or next month? Before you know it we’ve bought a phone! I don’t like to think that 2nd graders already feel the need to keep up with the Joneses, but it’s there, like it or not, and it is only going to get worse. We’ll fight the battle today in the hopes that she won’t have to in the future.

What is the craziest thing your kids have ever asked for? Can 7 year olds really understand needs vs wants and budgeting?




Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. I can’t beat the story about the 2nd grader bringing in starbucks everyday, thats pretty good. When my kids tell me I should buy them something because the other kids have one my response is “thats not my fault”. That confuses my kids enough they normally drop it.

  2. When my brother and I were about that age we too had to use our own money for “wants”. Dad would occasionally “spot us” a bit more money if something we wanted cost a little more than what we had, but that amount that he loaned us came out of our next allowance. (Allowance wasn’t given, it was earned based on the chores we did each week.)

  3. Kim, we are totally on the same page as you guys here. Our oldest just got a phone this spring, when she was 14 and a half. It’s a talk and text only, and we’ll buy her 1000 minutes a year: after that, she’s on her own. It is difficult to say no to so much, but I know my kids appreciate everything SO much more, and I also know they see the value in money and experiences over material things. Our third oldest just got loaded up in cash and gift cards for her birthday to the tune of $135 or so. She spent the $45 in gift cards on clothes for herself, and she’s saving the rest. Same with our oldest, who also came into a good chunk of change – $100 – for a babysitting job. She earned it a month ago and hasn’t spent a dime of it. Yes, temptations have come along, but because we’ve taught them not to give in to the Joneses, she is saving for bigger, more valuable items, such as a car.

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