Big kids are quick to demand the latest stuff, but they aren't always capable of holding on to it. "A child doesn't develop an adultlike understanding of an object's value until he has some experience with earning money for doing work," says Kathy Reschke, Ph.D., a learning consultant in Columbus, OH. To minimize losses, Reschke suggests involving your child in the purchasing process, including earning at least some of the money to pay for the item. Then set some ground rules for use and care -- for instance, the iPod has to stay in a zippered pocket, or he has to make sure his North Face jacket is on a designated hook at the end of each day. Determine up front what the consequences will be if the item is lost. When Jarrett Bergmann, 12, of Kenosha, WI, borrowed and lost his sister's cell phone, he had to pay up. "The phone was insured, but Jarrett paid the deductible because it was an irresponsible move," mom Lisa Bergmann notes.
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