What’s Wrong With Simply Telling Your Kids “No?”

September 25, 2006

I’m sorry if this sounds preachy, but I have to get this off my chest.

I have read on a couple of blogs this morning about this year’s Christmas craze: Tickle Me Elmo. I’m of the opinion that there should NEVER be a craze for a TOY! The idea of paying $100 or more for a toy that normally sells for $40 is pure insanity. Why can’t people tell little Johnny that Tickle Me Elmo is too expensive and that they need to pick out something else? Will that scar little Johnny for life? Not to mention the fact that like almost all other toys, once the “newness” has worn off, these $100+ Elmos will be found in the backs of closets across America.

One blogger (I had a change of heart) talked about rushing to Toys R Us to buy as many Elmos as he could get his hands on so that he could turn around and sell them on eBay once people found out that all the stores were sold out. He’s of the opinion that once kids start asking for them, parents will have no other option but to pay out the nose on eBay. There’s that old Christmas Spirit!

29 responses to What’s Wrong With Simply Telling Your Kids “No?”

  1. LOL I hear what you are saying. In a perfect world, people wouldn’t frenzy over anything, kids or adults. However, people are willing to buy and if you can make some money getting people what they want, thats better for your family. You can’t really judge other people and their spending habits, but you can learn to see opportunities- and that’s really the point of what he is saying, wouldn’t you agree? I have two little guys, and I refuse to buy one of those things- and if we get one for a gift it’ll be MIA! LOL

  2. Another aspect to the craze is that it may be more a parent’s craze than a children’s craze. When my daughters were small, one year Cabbage Patch Dolls were the craze. Seems every little girl supposedly wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll. So my step mother managed, with difficulty, to find a couple of them for my daughters, and gave the dolls to them for Christmas. But my daughters were into Barbie dolls, so the Cabbage Patch Dolls ended up at the bottom of the toy box and hardly ever saw the light of day. My step mother was reacting more to the media hype than what my girls actually wanted.

  3. Yeah, I think this idea that just because your child asked for it, they have to get it, is really dumb. Besides, most children of the age to be playing with Tickle Me Elmo would be just as delighted by a box full of bubble wrap. They may see it on TV and want it, but I wanted a pony and did I get one? noooo!

  4. Our kids have never wanted these sorts of things, and they’d never get them if they did. But in a way, the eBay craze almost seems like proper punishment for those that do give into their kids on stuff like this.

  5. Sam,

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Parents and grandparents get suckered into thinking that if they don’t get the kids what’s “hot,” the kids will be upset. The only people who profit from this kind of stuff is the manufacturers and the middlemen.

  6. I agree that this fad is ridiculous. I have a tough time understanding parents who get caught up in this. But I don’t have any problem with the blogger who’s trying to capitalize on it.

    If there’s limited supply and significant demand, that sounds like a great money-making opportunity. He’s just buying low and selling high (or hoping to sell high at least). If he’s not successful, he stands to lose a bundle. If he is, that’s his reward for taking some risk.

  7. Heh, I’m picturing a guy wearing a trenchcoat walking up to people saying, “Hey, you wanna Tickle Me Elmo? I got some right here.” And then he opens the trenchcoat and there are Elmos hanging inside of it. And each Elmo is wearing a fake Rolex.

  8. Wasn’t this a big thing 5 or so years ago? I imagine that there are plenty of Tickle-me Elmos already hanging out in closets…

  9. I agree – the hype is completely manufactured and adult-centered. The company comes out with stories about how toy X is the ‘hot’ toy for the Christmas season, then shows some flashy commercials to children, designed to get them to ask their parents just once. They ask, their parents belive the hype and the companies rake in the profits. The only thing (other than books) I can remember really, really wanting as a kid was an American Girls doll. I remember pouring over the magazines and asking every year for about 4 years before my parents finally gave me one.
    I think that’s going to be my rule for presents when (and if) I have kids – for every $50 in price they have to want it for 6+ months before they’ll recieve it. (So they’d have to want a tickle-me-elmo for a year at $100).

  10. LOL, I think you were talking about me, unless someone else is talking about it on their blog. This world is run by supply and demand. If people want it, they will pay more. The reasons behind why they would pay more don’t really matter.

    What I find interesting is that ALL of my buyers are in New York and Florida. I wonder if Elmo is more rare in those two states.

  11. A couple of thoughts:

    1) As far as the person trying to buy up the toys and resell on ebay, go for it. I’m a big believer that we should take as much money as we can from stupid people. And if you’re willing to pay inflated prices for a toy like that, you qualify.

    2) On a more general note, these “one purpose” toys tend to quickly get discarded. A much better idea are toys that have multiple uses and that allow kids to use their imaginations. The classic examples would be lincoln logs or Legos, but there are lots of more updated variations on the theme. For example, the Zome Tool kit:

    http://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/zometool/zome_tool_creator_kit_teachers_kit.cfm

    Fatbrain has a lot of other cool stuff too.

    And yes, parents do need to grow a pair.

  12. In a case like this, I don’t think the parents even have to tell their kids no. Chances are if a kid is young enough to want a Tickle Me Elmo doll, they’ll be asking Santa for it anyway, not their parents. Santa can just not bring it. I asked faithfully every year for a horse, and Santa never showed up with it. I wasn’t scarred for life or anything 😉

    But, I do agree with you in general that “no” is a good thing for parents to say in a lot of cases.

  13. Tickle Me Elmo is STILL popular? Maaaan, I thought that thing played out with bell bottoms.

  14. I don’t think think that there is anything wrong with simply saying “NO” to your kids. Kids need to learn at early stages in thier life, that they can’t have everything that they desire. They also need to learn the value of a dollar as well as how to handle rejection. “Heaven forbid” little Johnny, will throw a temper tantrumn, because he can’t have a $200 pair sneakers. Kids need to realize the fact, that in life, they will hear the word No, or someday face rejection, noone is immune to this. That’s one of the great facts of life. When kids hear the word “no”, they must understand that the topic is not open for discussion, and you as a parent, will not be easily influenced by endless crying, temper tantrumns, etc., as a means of getting thier way.

  15. I agree with you, but I don’t see this as fundamentally different from many other “entreprenurial” efforts that are celebrated on places like pf blogs.

  16. I guess my point is that it is these “entrepreneurs” that make the hype worse because they make the product artificially scarce (i.e. you can’t find them at the toy store).

  17. I kinda figure that these parents are going to be punished for their folly right away.

    If I had to spend two days listening to Elmo giggle, I’d go insane.

  18. I understand your frustration, but blame the game, not the player. True, the ebay entrepreneur is feeding into the hype, but they have no moral or ethical obligation to alter their behavior. Ultimately, it’s up to the parents to set limits for children.

    IMO, I think it’s more the parents ego at stake and the need to keep up with the Jones and win bragging rights… “… See what a great parent I am because I am willing to walk over hot coals to get him the hottest stuff!” Kids don’t know the difference between this stuff if you don’t egg them on.

    You can’t stop people from spending their money on stupid stuff.

  19. WTF JLP, I want one. I WANT I WANT I WANT.

    Hater.

  20. Weren’t Tickle me Elmo dolls all the rage a few years back? I completely agree that we shouldn’t be giving into a craze like this. Personaly I beleive I’m finally getting over the desire to own something because I see someone with it and think it’s cool. I’m sure there will always be that sense of seeing someone in an obscenely priced car and thinking I could own that. Our children should not run our lives. Our excessive consumerism amuses me sometimes.

  21. JLP “I guess my point is that it is these “entrepreneurs” that make the hype worse because they make the product artificially scarce (i.e. you can’t find them at the toy store).”

    What’s the difference… it’s either toys or houses… same thing happened with real estate for the past 2 years. If I don’t buy the toy/house, someone else will. Personally I’d rather be the one making the money than to let it sit on the shelf.

  22. BTW, we are talking about Tickle Me Elmo – 10th Anniversary edition (TMX). Yes it has been 10 years since the first fad.

  23. Maybe there’s something to this manufactured hype thing. It happened with TME, Cabbage Patch Dolls, CareBears, Furbys, Beanie Babies and a lot of other things I can’t remember. Most of those toys were ugly and stupid, and you couldn’t play with them because they had cost so much money.
    Let’s hype something silly, like a piggy bank with a digital return counter display, and make millions.

  24. Y’all are a bunch of haters. When I can’t get tickets to the popular show, do I cuss out the scalpers? No. I could have been alert and bought tickets during the first minute, but I didn’t. Now I pay the price. But that’s ok. I do the same sh*t.

    BTW, anyone want an Elmo, call me. 😉

  25. knuckle_headed,

    We aren’t haters. We just think that people who pay outrageous prices for TOYS aren’t making wise decisions with their money.

    And, although there’s nothing really “wrong” with it, the hoarders do play a significant role in driving up prices.

  26. There is nothing wrong with saying no. I think most American parents spoil their kids too much. It’s stupid. Setting appropriate boundaries, like letting your kids know you don’t ask for ridiculously expensive toys, is proper parenting. I think a kid in pre-school doesn’t understand money and the cost of presents. S/He may be equally happy opening a toy car or doll on Christmas Day instead of a TMX doll.

    And not to sound too off the wall here, but the point of Xmas isn’t to give each other lavish gifts to but recognize a historical event that isn’t even significant to half the world that doesn’t believe in Jesus. Don’t get sucked into the consumerism, but stick the spirituality.

    Rarely do any of my childhood Christmas memories revolve around any gift I received. It’s my mother’s birthday and what I remember most is the FOOD! Baking cookies, cake, making lots of Korean dumplings and special foods. Holidays are all about the food, and the crazy tree decorating and not so much the stuff under the tree. Oh yeah, and trying to stay awake for Midnight Mass in a freezing cold church.

  27. Check out the Governator in “Jingle all the way”, for the insanity of parents chasing a hot toy for their kid. Those nuts enough to pay inflated prices fall under “There’s a sucker born every minute… and two to take’ em”. And yes I do have two young ‘uns myself.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. » My Ex Paid For a Semester in College By Doing This… on Consumerism Commentary: A Personal Finance Blog - September 25, 2006

    […] I read on AllFinancialMatters that at least one individual is planning to buy as many of the new Elmo toys as possible and sell them for a mark-up on eBay. […]

  2. We’re In Debt » The Ethics of Christmas Entreprenurialism - September 25, 2006

    […] Now that we are entering the holiday season, the debate is heating up as to whether or not this practice is ethical. Personally, I don’t think that it is ethical, though in the interest of full disclaimer I did preorder an Xbox 360 last year solely for this purpose. At the last minute though, I did cancel order, as I did not feel right about it. […]