In the Parenthood

Silly Bandz and the gimme gimmes

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  June 28, 2010 12:53 PM

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sillybandz2.jpgSilly Bandz are the baseball cards of my kids' generation. They collect and trade them like they're going out of style. My 5-year-old likes to wear hers to school -- they reach half-way up her forearm -- where she and her friends compare and discuss them as seriously as I used to stickers and matchbox cars. At some schools they've become so popular -- and such a target for theft -- that they've been banned.
My friend Nataly's daughter has just gotten into the craze, and Nataly brings up a great point on her Work It, Mom! blog:

When it comes to requests that are heavily influenced by what her friends have at school, I find that I hesitate more than at other times. I want her to understand that just because others have something doesn?t mean that she has to have it -- silly bandz today, fancy jeans/cars/houses tomorrow. But I also don?t want to overdo it: Just because her friends have something shouldn?t mean that she can?t have it.

There's a fine line between giving your child what she wants and fostering an out-sized sense of entitlement. Are Silly Bandz a harmless trend, or a gateway to the gimme gimmes?

I first bought some for my 5-year-old months ago, because her friends had given her several of theirs and I wanted her to be able to reciprocate. I bought some for my 3-year-old because half of his friends are the younger siblings of my 5-year-old's friends, and they wanted to share with one another, too. Our 14-year-old and 12-year-old wear and trade them, too, though not as avidly as the little ones. I love that there's a collectible out there that appeals to such a wide range of ages, something our preschoolers and our teens can bond over.

The fact that they're relatively cheap makes a difference to me, too. There's a huge financial difference between buying a few packages of Silly Bandz to trade and share versus buying, say, a $60 toy that your child will keep at home and refuse to let friends touch -- or will break after a week. That said, just because they're inexpensive doesn't mean you have to buy your kid every package they see; it's fine to say "OK, the first pack is on me, and if you want more you have to earn the money for them." (Yes, it's even OK to hold your preschooler to this rule. They can set the table to earn 25 cents and buy their own Silly Bandz after a few days of breakfast-and-dinner-time work.)

For me, when deciding whether to buy or not to buy, the peer pressure element is important and curbing the gimme gimmes is important, but I think it's worth factoring in what the desired item is for, and whether there's a larger teachable moment looming. So, in this case, for me, it was worth feeding the gimme gimmes because the larger lesson -- sharing, trading, sociability, etc. -- was worth reinforcing.

Moms and Dads, are your kids obsessed with Silly Bandz? When faced with the latest gotta-have-it trend, when do you give in, and where do you draw the line?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com and follow her on Twitter @WriteEditRepeat.

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9 comments so far...
  1. Personally, we bought one pack of 20 and had the kids split them up, then that was it. No more. They aren't asking for more because we aren't feeding into it. They have two or three on at at time - that's all. I wouldn't allow up the arm - why promote it? If they all jump off the cliff, are you going to let yours go because everyone else is doing it also?

    Posted by hippiest June 29, 10 05:09 PM
  1. My 7-year old boy is totally into them, wearing more than he should. My 11-year old girl will occasionally wear one, she said her friends aren't into them. My 4-year old (girl) wears them about a day before breaking them.

    It's all good, just a dumb fad. They don't compare to baseball cards, they will be gone in a year, no one will be wearing them.

    My kids don't have the gimmies, because I'm pretty indulgent on these type of cheap things. Thrilled over a $5 pack that no one else has, go for it, enjoy.

    In my town, some of the elementary schools banned them, others didn't. My son said they only trade on the playground.

    Summer is here and I haven't bought any since school ended, nor do I see my son wearing them anymore. Perhaps if he was going do daycamp rather than playing around the neighborhood.

    Posted by Mary J. June 29, 10 07:35 PM
  1. Silly bandz is the top selling toy on Amazon! It was an absolute shocker to me when I was attending the MIT Sandbox Summit.

    Posted by ThePapaPost June 29, 10 10:10 PM
  1. I've bought a couple of packs for each kid, and they have spent some of their own money on them. They've mostly lost interest since school ended, even though they've been going to day camp. I think my daughter regrets spending her saved allowance on a ton of them, but it's a good lesson to learn.

    Posted by akmom June 30, 10 09:46 AM
  1. I think one of the reason schools banned them is that kids were flinging them at others like rubber bands. As kids trends go, I think it's really cute and clever. However, my kids aren't into them so I really shouldn't talk. A friend gave my son two of them and he gave them to me. I haven't had to deal with this issue too much but I remember as a 8th grader I felt on top of the world when my parents gave me calvin klein jeans. There should be some amount of fitting in allowed but after a point a kid should be paying for the trendy items themselves.

    Posted by Cordelia June 30, 10 11:40 AM
  1. My kids each over 100 of them. Not that big of a deal for us. Doesn't create the "gimmes", as they know I have no problem saying "no" to plenty of things. They make them happy, they love looking at them, wearing them and trading them, and they're cheap. They want cell phones and ipods and are not getting those, even though, "everyone has them". And cost has nothing to do with it.

    My kids still like them, and are wearing some today. Just and hour ago in the car my 7 y.o. said, "silly bandz aren't getting big anymore, they're going down." My 9 year old said, "Yeah, if they got popular at the beginning of school they would have been big for a longer time, but they got popular near the end of school. Now that nobody is in school and they can't trade them, I bet people aren't buying them anymore."!

    Posted by mom2boys June 30, 10 02:20 PM
  1. I dont think sillybandz should be good to wear . My FRIEND NEARLY LOST HIS HAND!And my mom is nerves with me having 0 237of them.Cause i have 346.

    Posted by Joseph July 3, 10 08:23 PM
  1. This is why my son gets an allowance. He bought his own Silly Bandz.

    Posted by Col July 15, 10 09:16 PM
  1. I am 11 and I have over 140.I only wear about 117 of them.haha!!
    I have a friend that has 82,the other one has 1,the other one has over 120 + 4 ringz and another one with over 200 in all!!!wow.ha!!

    My parents spoil me alot...they love me to death.Well I am an A student so they buy them for me as rewards in school.Guess what!!??they sell them at the school store at my school!!Its awesome!!

    Posted by Katherine west September 4, 10 09:20 PM
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about the author

Lylah M. Alphonse
Lylah M. Alphonse is a member of the Globe Magazine staff and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling a full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day, and about everything else at Write. Edit. Repeat. When she's not glued to the computer or solving a kid-related crisis, she's in the kitchen or, occasionally, asleep.

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