You won’t hear many kids saying they’re excited to go to the dentist — but my 6-year-old recently said just that.
When he announced that he was looking forward to his appointment, his older sister — my 11-year-old — wanted to know why. My son knew that he was getting a baby tooth pulled because the permanent tooth was growing in behind it and not pushing it out on its own. To him, that meant one thing: money.
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“The tooth fairy is going to bring me dollars,” he told his sister. He knew this because the tooth fairy had already visited other kids in his kindergarten class and they had been sharing tales of how she (or he, I suppose) had left them cash in exchange for their teeth.
How Much Is a Tooth Worth?
I asked my son how many dollars he expected to get from the tooth fairy. “Five, maybe four,” he said.
That’s actually on par with what kids get these days. According to the Tooth Fairy Poll, the average payout the tooth fairy leaves is $4.13. But plenty of kids get more — a lot more.
My son told me that the tooth fairy had brought one kid in his class $10 and another got $20. I also remember my daughters coming home from school when they were younger, telling me their classmates had gotten as much as $20 from the tooth fairy. Perhaps they were exaggerating. But I’ve seen my friends and acquaintances post pictures of their kids on Facebook holding up big bills with captions like, “Look what the tooth fairy brought.”
At my house, the tooth fairy isn’t nearly that generous. In fact, I even warned my son not to expect a big payout.
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My Kids Don’t Need to Keep Up With the Joneses’ Kids
Of course, my son couldn’t understand why the tooth fairy wouldn’t be as generous with him as she’d been with his friends. I told him the tooth fairy brings different amounts because she talks to parents about how much they think a tooth is worth. There will be kids who get more than he does and those who will get less. He should be grateful, I said, for whatever amount he receives.
I’ve made it clear to all of my kids from the time they were very young that just because their friends got something didn’t mean they would, too. However, my son has had the hardest time accepting this. But I don’t give in because he needs to understand that our family doesn’t try to keep up with the Joneses — or their kids.
Besides, if I paid each of my three kids $20 per tooth, I’d be out $1,200. As I see it, that money is better spent on a fun family trip that will create lasting memories, or even braces, which my both of my daughters have needed and my son likely will, too.
I Don’t Want My Kids to Feel Entitled
Yes, it might seem fun to celebrate your child’s first lost tooth with a generous gift from the tooth fairy but your kids might expect to receive more and more with each tooth. An article on personal finance website Moneyish quoted a mom who said when the tooth fairy left $10 for her daughter, the daughter was so upset that she didn’t get more that the tooth fairy ended up bringing another $10 for her a few days later.
I try not to go overboard with any sort of gift-giving because I don’t want my kids to feel entitled. Considering that I don’t let Santa spoil my kids, I’m certainly not going to let the tooth fairy overindulge them.
In the end, what did the tooth fairy bring my son? I had to give him some credit for being so brave and calm at the dentist’s office while getting his tooth pulled. So, for his first tooth — which took a shot of Novocain and dental forceps to extract — the tooth fairy brought $5.
But she left a note that said, “I usually leave $1, but this is your first tooth. You also were brave at the dentist, so you get more this time.” I made sure to drive home the point that he’d only be getting a buck for any other teeth he lost.
He was ecstatic, nonetheless, and I was excited that he said he was going to save the money, not spend it right away. It’s good to know that at least some of my efforts to teach my kids about being responsible with money are paying off.
Click through to read more about why this mom doesn’t buy her kids nice things.