The Tooth Fairy Inflation

[Image - Hawin Rojas]
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The tooth fairy seems to have caused plenty of controversy in recent years, but unlike Santa, it isn’t whether she should exist that parents are debating but the varying rate at which she prices milk teeth!

The tooth…mouse?

The tooth fairy is a childhood fiction that has grown up around the loss of a tooth to make the rite of passage – which could be worrying for kids – into a much nicer event. There have even been some claims that the tradition has roots as far back as Norse times and, in many cultures, the fairy is actually a mouse! However, whether a small furry being or winged woman, parents (and children) are mostly concerned about one thing: how much should she leave?

Rising costs

For some parents, it seems a comparison between what they used to get and the current price is most important; if they got 10p for a tooth then so should their children. However, this becomes problematic when in today’s world you can’t even buy (the ironic) treat of a chocolate bar for that much. With all the media focus on childhood obesity and health warnings from dentists, you may not want your children’s only option to be a packet of chocolate buttons, so then what?

“If milk tooth prices rose in line with house prices, by 2007, the price would have reached £14 (although now it would have dropped to about £12.50).” Michael McIntyre, Life and Laughing

Well, you can opt to give a higher amount. This still brings problems though, as some parents believe that each separate tooth should bring enough money to spend there and then on a new toy, while others encourage saving. Strong evidence from the Money Advice Service suggests that adult habits with money are created in early childhood, so this could be an ideal opportunity to teach your children the value of saving money.

A nice suggestion is to create a little money box specifically for money from the tooth fairy, and perhaps only allow your kids to spend once halfway through losing the whole set. Another idea is to let them add it to their pocket money, so they can get that little bit closer to buying that Disney Elsa figurine!

The going rate

UK surveys have found that some parents give as much as £20 a tooth, whereas others give 5p. One way to make things more balanced is to find out the average going rate in your area and agree on a set amount with the other parents. After all, it can’t be nice to go to school excited about your 20p, only to have another child parading around the cool new toy they got for a single tooth.

You could also try to decide your tooth fairy’s going rate by working out the total accumulation. After all, £1 a tooth would be £20 once they had lost the full set. Most parents tend to give a higher rate for the first tooth lost and then a slightly reduced rate for the following teeth, often between £1-£2 for the first and 50p-£1 for the following teeth. Some parents instead go for the higher rate for the two front teeth, which seems logical from a tooth fairy perspective.

Alternative solutions

A great option if you live in an area where the tooth fairy seems overly generous to other children, is to give gifts instead of money. Gifts can seem much more expensive than they are to children, and what you might be able to find for a £1 – or even 50p – might seem way more exciting and take away the instant comparison.

A special book about the tooth fairy can keep the magic going, even when George from year 2 gets £10. Alternatively, you can add some magic with a letter alongside the coin and perhaps some ‘fairy dust’ to keep. One top tip – regardless of your tooth fairy’s payslip – is putting the tooth in an envelope or little box to go under the pillow so that it doesn’t get lost!

One mum told us that her family has a custom where the child who has lost the tooth gets £1 and the other children in the house get 50p. They also carry this tradition over to birthdays, where siblings get presents too.

It’s definitely an interesting idea, and she tells us it certainly stops the fighting (and trying to pull teeth out), but what do you think? Is this an inspired solution or would you rather your children learn that sometimes it’s all about someone else and not about them?

How much will the tooth fairy be leaving in your house this year? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!