£1,700 a year – the cost of Pester Power

Posted in: Corporate

  • Half of parents (49%) have experienced pester power from their child in the past month, with 42% saying the pressure regularly gets the best of them
  • One in four parents have recently been pestered for apps (24%) with snacks (51%) the most common requests overall
  • However, 87% of parents manage to turn pester power into a chance to teach their child about money
  • Pester power doesn’t end as children reach their teens, one in seven (15%) teens pester every day for items like clothes or money

Parents spend around £1,700 a year caving in to pester power – but most manage to turn the pressure into a teachable moment.

This is according to financial services provider OneFamily, who found that 49% of parents have come under pressure from pester power in the past month – defined as being pushed by children into buying something for them.

Troublingly, the two most frequently requested types of item are snacks such as sweets, chocolate, crisps and sugary drinks (51%) and meals out or fast food (45%). These edible items are followed closely by toys (44%) – particularly among preteens and younger teens.

Increasingly, however, children are asking for digital purchases instead – a third of parents (35%) have been asked for video games in the last month, while one in four (24%) parents were begged for apps, or in-game purchases and downloadable content for video games. These requests hit a peak among children in their early teens, aged 13-14 (31%).

In fact, these demands have led almost half of parents (48%) to approve digital purchases for their child in the past that they didn’t fully understand, while a similar proportion (47%) say their child has bought apps or games without them realising. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of parents struggle with the fact that their child’s personal electronic devices directly throwing up advertising that they can’t stop.

However, 87% of parents at least sometimes manage to turn pester power into teachable moments. Most commonly, this involves asking them to work out whether they can afford it as part of their weekly pocket money (49%), talking about the fact that essentials have to be paid for first (39%) or encouraging them to budget and save up for a bigger purchase instead (34%).

Encouragingly, three-quarters (74%) of parents say that it is important to establish rules to prevent pestering, so their child knows what happens when they do. What’s more, three in five (61%) parents apply their teachable tactics consistently, hammering home the same message most times they have the opportunity to do so.

Overall, although pester power might bring up the image of younger children having a tantrum in a supermarket, 15 per cent of teens pressure parents for items that they want on a daily basis, but ask for different things. Among the most common requests from teens from the age of 15 onwards are clothes (50%) and money for socialising (46%).

Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, Savings and Investments Director at OneFamily, said: 

“It’s totally understandable that parents might end up giving in to pester power more often than they mean to from their teenagers, particularly with digital purchases opening up a new battleground outside of the supermarket.

“But even just occasionally turning requests for money or items into an excuse to teach children about money can be really valuable. Taking this kind of proactive stance will help to instil positive habits and prepare your child for the challenges of adulthood, like managing their income, making rent or sticking to a budget – instances when the sums of money they are managing will be significantly higher.”