Q: "What can I do if my Little frequently wants to spend money or doesn't want to leave at the end of an activity?"
A: It's OK to say "no."
As a Big, it is important to feel comfortable setting limits. Children thrive when they know what they can expect and what is expected of them. Some children will test adults in new settings to see how far they can go before they are told "no." Limit testing is common around issues of time and money. Try these tactics:
• As the end of your time together approaches, give your Little reminders. For example, “we have time to play one more game” or “we need to leave in 15 minutes.”
• If your match is new, it helps to start out by doing fun activities that don’t cost you anything.
• Remind the child that the focus of Big Brothers Big Sisters is friendship, not money.
• Sit down together with your Little and brainstorm activity ideas you would like to do that don’t require spending money.
• When you are arranging the activity, discuss with your Little and his/her caregiver whether you will be eating together or if your Little should eat before you pick him/her up.
• If your Little often says he/she is hungry during your activities, plan ahead and bring along a snack.
• Rather than asking your Little “What do you want to do?”, provide your Little with a few free or low cost activities from which to choose.
• Set a budget for the month and talk with your Little about the options. For example: “We have $20 to spend this month for our four activities. That can be $5 per activity, $10 on two outings and two free ones, or $20 on one outing and three free ones." ($20 is just an example.)
• Stick to the limit you set. It’s OK to say “no”, but let them down gently.
• Remember, your Mentoring Specialist (MS) is here to problem-solve and assist. Your MS can also talk with the child about realistic expectations of the program.