Genius Hack to Get Your Kid to Take Better Care of their Belongings

Wondering how to get kids to listen, Mom (hint: WITHOUT yelling)? While I certainly don't have a parenting handbook, I did happen to run across this genius hack for getting your kids to listen to you about taking care of their belongings. |

Child not listening? Here’s a genius hack I ran across for how to get your kid(dos) to listen – without yelling – when it comes to taking care of their belongings.

I know a mom who used to be really frustrated with her son’s lackluster care + enthusiasm for his belongings. She would buy him nice gifts at Christmas and for birthdays. But what would he do?

When her son was a tween, he would give his toys away to his friends. Anyone who asked him, he’d just give them to them. She would find out weeks later that he had gifted his electronic, or video game, or Lego set to someone who had grown wise to her child’s giving nature.

Of course, this represents a different kind of “not taking care of your belongings” (and an extreme example at that).

But it does raise the issue that so many parents are facing:

How do you get your child to care about their belongings?

You know, actually maintain + put them where they belong (most) nights?

While reading the other day, I came across one man’s genius hack that aligns pretty well with natural human behavior.

It’s to give your child a financial stake in doing so.

Let’s discuss the reason why David Owen decided to do this, and how it impacted his kids.

One of the Values Owen Wanted to Teach his Children

David Owen, author of The First National Bank of Dad – an excellent read, by the way – valued teaching his children a sense of ownership over their lives. When reading his book, you can see how he does that at a very early age by allowing them almost complete autonomy over their money.

Owen writes, “One of the most valuable lifelong financial services that you can perform for your children, I believe, is to help them begin to think of themselves as the owners of their lives, rather than renters or squatters – in other words, to help them begin to take personal responsibility in the broadest possible sense.”

He found an opportunity to further teach this value when the popular platform, eBay, came online.

How eBay Helped Owen Discover this Genius Parenting Hack

Owen raised his kids just as eBay was making selling and purchasing things like toothbrushes from a woman in Kansas feasible.

And his son definitely took notice of this potential.

Owen writes, “eBay, by providing an accessible and convenient marketplace in which things like old CDs and video games have genuine monetary value, has transformed my son’s relationship to his possessions. By giving him an incentive for behaving responsibly, eBay has increased his personal sense of responsibility. That’s good!”

Once his child made the association between the “stuff” in his bedroom and being able to actually reap money from it down the road, his behavior changed.

And it was a natural change, not one his parents had to force on him.

His son handled his video games very carefully and put them away so that their resale value wouldn’t drop. He had an incentive that the parent didn’t even need to be part of. How nice is that? eBay “opened his eyes to the cash value of the junk cluttering his room. He quickly sold off a substantial portion of his private cache of old video games, unwanted CDs, and outgrown toys. His previously vague sense of the value of his possessions was transformed.”

How Can You Give Your Child a Stake in Maintaining their Belongings?

This was a really great example to show how giving ownership over to children + giving them a financial stake in their lives can change their behavior without parents having to preach or press their views onto them.

Can you do something similar in your own child’s life, just like Bill did with his own son + his Apple iPhone 7 after reading this post?

While your solution might look a little different, here’s the basics of what you’ll need to solve the problem of your child not taking care of their belongings:

  • An Agreement to Hand the Proceeds Over to Your Child: Will your child get 50% of the cash they make back? 100%? It doesn’t matter how much, it only matters that your child knows that this incentive exists. If you’re not comfortable handing over the money to your child, then can you agree to use the money gained towards purchasing something new that they’ll want/need in the future? You can explain to them that the more money you can get, the better the item you can afford to purchase for them.
  • Education on the Resale Value of Well-Kept Items Vs. Not-So-Well-Kept-Items: You’ve set up the financial incentive and probably made your kid’s eyes pop out of their heads (at least a little). Now you need to show them that maintaining their belongings will bring the highest resale price. Here’s an excellent article about how to maintain value on video games. Another way you could help them understand condition of the item in direct relation to how much you’ll earn back is by pricing your used car on Kelley Blue Book. You can choose different “conditions” the car is in, and this directly affects the price you should list it. Here’s a condition quiz you go through with your child to see the true condition of your car. For electronics such as smartphones and tablets, you can use a site like to get the point across (conditions are, “Broken, Good, and Flawless,” each increasing in cash you can earn back).
  • A Platform for Selling Your Child Can Use: You’ll need to pick a selling platform for your child to reap back cash from their belongings when they are finished using them. For example, can your family hold a yard sale next spring or summer? Can you offer to list their items for sale on a local Facebook Mom Group (with their help)? What about trading in video games using programs like GameStop’s? Of course, eBay is still an option as well.

Now it’s your turn.

Are you inspired to do this with your kid(dos)? How will you experiment with introducing this incentive program into your household? Please share in the comments below!

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