Your child’s first tooth loss marks a critical milestone for them. It serves to remind you both that they’re growing up quickly, one that typically merits a small monetary gift.
Most parents turn to the legend of the tooth fairy, but nobody tells you what edition you must read from if you do. If you want to make tooth loss less painful, it helps to tie it to a reward. What’s the tooth fairy’s going rate — here’s how to decide.
How Did They Do at Their Dental Visit?
You should never punish a child for expressing fear. Such behavior is gaslighting — it teaches children their reality is invalid and can damage their sense of growing identity.
However, it’s perfectly okay — indeed, quite advisable — to reward exemplary behavior. Your children don’t necessarily need to be “brave,” but they should approach the visit with an open mind and trust.
It helps calm their fears if you approach each trip to a new provider in a non-threatening way. Bring them into the office a few days early or show them a virtual tour to acquaint them with the facility. Read positive books about dental visits and let them know what steps to expect from start to finish. The anticipation of not knowing what lies ahead produces unnecessary anxiety.
What you don’t want to do is establish expectations, then fail to follow through. If you tell your children that the tooth fairy will reward them with X, Y, or Z if they treat the dental staff with kindness and respect, please deliver.
Do You Want to Teach an Economic Lesson?
Your kid’s teeth offer a veritable gold mine of economics lessons, and the rules inherently fairer than the adult world. After all, nearly everyone starts with the same number of teeth, whereas few have equal footing when it comes to money.
Perhaps the simplest lesson you can teach is the value of various coins and bills. Each time your child loses a tooth, give them the same amount — but in a different form. If you decide that $5 is the payout, maybe one time they get five ones, and another, three ones and an assortment of change.
Make learning about economics fun. Tell your kids how much the tooth fairy might bring them before you go to the grocery store and ask what items they could buy with their cash. This activity introduces them to the concept of opportunity cost. Maybe they can’t afford a cupcake and a candy bar, but they can have one or the other.
It’s never too early to teach about investing. Before you and your child head out shopping, cash in hand, explain to them that letting their money accumulate could lead to future paydirt. If they choose this route, reward them with interest income in their piggy bank as they persevere.
Don’t shy away from tough lessons but be gentle. Nearly every parent forgets the tooth fairy’s visit one or twice. Use this experience as a teachable moment to show children that money doesn’t always show up when expected, but patience pays off — when the cash magically appears the following night.
What Do Their Friend’s Receive?
In 2018, the national average for tooth fairy leavings was $3.70 per molar or incisor. Roughly two out of five parents give their kiddos $5 or more. What you decide to leave ultimately depends on your feelings about the tradition and your budget.
Encourage your children to ferret out what their friends receive. Here’s why — someday, your little bundle of joy is going to enter into high-stakes salary negotiations. Do you want them to crumble and accept the first offer or fight for more for themselves when they do? If they choose the latter route, they need substance to back up their argument.
Teaching kids that their ideas and input matter is powerful stuff for building the confidence it takes to succeed. Encouraging family negotiation does the twofold duty of teaching your children a skill they’ll need later in life while reinforcing their opinion makes a difference.
What Can You Realistically Afford?
If you are struggling financially right now, you are far from alone. Children can tell when something is wrong. You should discuss financial hardship with them by remaining calm and assuring them that you have the situation under control — even if you don’t feel like you do.
You can tell them that even the tooth fairy had to cut back during these challenging economic times. However, reassure them that people have a long history of coming back from tough experiences — this one is no exception.
Need You Give Money at All?
Who says that your gift has to take the form of cash at all? Get creative! If your little one would love nothing more than playing hooky for a day and having a movie marathon with mom and dad, go for it. This activity teaches them that time is more valuable than money. You can print more currency, but hours spent together are irreplaceable.
Therefore, if you don’t have the cash to give, please don’t feel like a bad parent. Ask your kid what they want that money can’t buy and hit the tooth fairy ball out of the park.
What’s the Tooth Fairy’s Going Rate? It Depends
What’s the tooth fairy’s going rate? Your answer to that question all depends on your circumstances, but you can teach valuable lessons regardless of your circumstances.