Years ago we took the Navigator to Legoland. After he enjoyed the park we told him he could spend a set amount of money on a souvenir Lego set. He wavered back and forth trying to decide between a Lego dinosaur set or a Ninjago set. He settled on the Ninjago set, reasoning he could get the dinosaur set later.

A few months afterwards Lego stopped making the dinosaur sets. The Navigator was devastated at not being able to complete his collection and sorely regretted his decision to buy the Ninjago set.

In retrospect, Lego no longer making its dinosaur sets was probably in anticipation of new dinosaurs sets for the release of Jurassic World. They are different from the old sets, but the Navigator was just as excited.

He started saving his allowance for a Lego Jurassic World set and then he sat on my tablet, requiring that it be replaced.

He was responsible for replacing it and we planned out how he would do it:

  • First, we calculated how much money had had.
  • Second, we looked at the cost of replacing the tablet.
  • Third, we talked about ways he can earn money in addition to his monthly allowance.

This was a struggle for him, not only because it required executive function skills to plan. It was the largest priced item he had ever paid for, which meant it would take a long time for him to save up the money.

It also required that he put the tablet first on the list of purchases and delay purchase of the Lego dinosaur set.

He was very frustrated by this, sorely regretting his actions that resulted in the destruction of the tablet, struggling with having to delay purchasing what he wanted, and impatient with the time it was going to take.

He felt like he was without options.

A long time ago I learned that budgeting was not about being restricted but about making choices. Managing money freed and empowered me – each choice I made about how I spent money was mine and no one else’s.

We wanted to teach the Navigator the same skills and perspective. It required a threshold development and acceptance of personal values – as an adult must decide to value affording food, housing, clothing before buying something else, so must the Navigator decide to value replacing my tablet before he bought the Lego set he wanted.

He was not entirely convinced that replacing my tablet should come before buying the Lego set, nor that he should bear the responsibility over getting what he wanted.

I thought walking him through the steps for replacing the tablet would be the hard part but maybe the hardest part was getting his buy-in to do it.

Shared Values


  1. That is a difficult thing for DC as well, although it seems as the navigator understands it much more – having to give up or put off something they want is difficult.


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