Kids Giving Money & Gifts to Their Friends

Parent Q&A

  • Curious if anyone dealing with situation of having a child who is a bit too willing to share/give his allowance money to friends? One of our kids is very kind and sweet and I'm starting to worry about him being taken advantage of.  He has a decent allowance since it is intended to cover all of the purchases for him that are not necessities, though he does not buy/want a lot, and we found out a year ago that when he took some money to school/playdates/outings, he would often use it for his friends or give/share with friends.  I knew about him buying snacks to share with his close friends and was totally ok with it, but found out that it expanded to kids he was only casually friends with asking him to buy him stuff from vending machine when they were hanging out in the library, etc.  We addressed it by limiting his cash-spending money and told him the bulk of his allowance goes into his bank account but he can use it to buy anything he wants when in stores with us/or on amazon/online and we will just pay with our credit card and take the funds out of his account.  So we are not limiting his spending (it is still his choice whether to save or spend and on what), but limiting the amount of cash he has on him.   Then shelter-in-place happened and the issue went away since he is home all the time.  His school is likely to re-open in Jan and now that he is a year older we are thinking whether to give him back his allowance without restrictions (since we want him to learn to manage money) or keep limiting his cash (so it is his decision whether to save and spend and on what, but he is not allowed to have more than $5 cash on him unless he needs it for something in advance, like to buy books during school book fair).  I don't mind him sharing or buying his friends things if he wants to (it is after all his money and was intended for him to be in charge of), but I'm worried that he is being taken advantage of and by letting him have cash at this age I'm setting him up as a target.  His personality is such that he still sees only the positive in people, just wants to share/make everyone happy, and is pretty naive for his age (his younger sister is better at reading people and their true motives than he is, and she is the main reason we knew to ask the questions we did to learn about the issue last year).  I don't want him hurt when he realizes that some of his "friends" are just using him, but also don't know how to explain it to him so he understands and can make more informed decisions.  The no cash rules seems like an easy out for us, but I'm worried I'm just postponing the inevitable and taking away a learning opportunity when the stakes are lower. I wonder if it is just my kid or if others dealt with it too. 

    You don't say how old he is, which seems like a factor. Middle schoolers shouldn't have more than $5 cash on them IMHO, and I would have no problem telling my 7th grader he's not allowed to buy stuff for friends. Not sure why you don't want to say that? My 5th grader has been on the other side of little friends buying stuff for her (or pushing to sell stuff to her) as a manipulation tool, and we ended up telling her no exchanging money with friends, period.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


7 year old daughter is constantly giving gifts to her friend

Jan 2010

I haven't seen this situation in the archives, and would love any related experience people have had. My daughter, just about 7 1/2, is fairly enamored of a new best friend whom I'll call ''Annie.'' I like Annie, think all in all they play pretty well together, and am glad for their friendship. I also think that my daughter may be a little more in ''friend love'' than Annie at this point, but I'm not too concerned about that as I know that friendships are often a little bit unequal in that way. What does concern me a little is my daughter's constant desire to give Annie presents - candy, stuffed animals etc. My sense this is spontaneous gift giving and not responding to a request from Annie, but it doesn't feel right (the gifting practice is also not reciprocal). I've tried to talk about it in a few different ways and she says she just likes to do it - ''it's fun to see her so happy about getting something she likes'' but obviously I don't want her to feel she needs to buy her friends in any way. Currently she is saving up her allowance to buy Annie a book about whales because that's what Annie is interested in. Sweet, and I want to applaud the generosity, but just not quite right. Ideas or advice? anon

Could have written your post-I have a 7 year old daughter who also loves to give (certain) friends gifts in an excessive and one-sided way...there is a girl at school she always wants to bring beads, pencils, sometimes larger things...what feels a little off to me is the one-sidedness...the generosity and thoughtfulness is great but there might be a little bit of wanting to impress someone who IS her friend but maybe not in as close or enthusiastic way as my daughter would like. I try to encourage the thoughtfulness piece and subtly play down the gift aspect-like maybe we shouldn't bring things to school when we don't have something for everyone...I don't have an answer but I just wanted to say I know what ya mean! anon

Teen wants to buy expensive present for friend

Dec 2004

Our 14 year old daughter wants to give a good friend an expensive gift, a guitar. She says he has stuck by her this year. I know her heart is big, but, by my values, I think it is too much for someone her age. If its her money, do I say anthing, let her make her own decision, or is there another strategy? cynthia

The way to help a teenager make a decision is to talk about the pros and cons of each choice and possible senarios. Some examples. If you give an expensive gift, it will make you both feel happy, but you will have less money to spend on yourself. What if you part ways soon after the gift is given? Would you like it if she gave you a very expensive gift or if she gave you a very inexpensive gift? Is there some other more appropriate way to show your appreciation? Your teenager doesn't have to give you an answer. The idea is to get them thinking and get them to develop a decision- making process. sunsolsal

Please tell her its inappropriate to give a friend an expensive gift -- no matter how good a friend he is. Her big heart is a nice thing, but the reason teenagers HAVE parents is to help at times like this. I would tell her that whether the money is in her possession or not, it isn't her decision to make -- at this age. She'll understand later. If you've previously told her the money is her's to spend as she wants... I guess I'd still ask her not to do it.

Has she considered just saying ''Thank you for being such a good friend''? In the long run it means more -- does she really think she needs to reward people for caring about her??? Good luck, Been There too