What does your child pay for (and how)?
When we talk about teaching life skills, we have to talk about money. There is no question that our kids are learning about money at a very early age. They hear us discussing what we can and can’t afford. They learn our values around spending, saving, giving, what we are entitled to, and our ideas about ‘enough’.
Taking into account that by the age of one, kids understand about 80% of what we say, it is easy to understand how much teaching we have already done about money. To that end, it is important to gain awareness of what we are teaching our kids and what we want to teach our kids and align the two.
Once kids are 3 or 4 years old, they have the ability to start interacting with real money – sorting it by shape and colour, naming it, grouping it and even counting it.
When we want our kids to learn to read, we give them books…when we want our kids to learn about money – they need to hold and use money.
As they get older, it is easy to fall into the habit of just handing over money whenever our kids need it or just want it. When that happens, we may be missing out on an opportunity to teach our kids life skills about money. That’s why today’s question is:
What does your child pay for, and how?
Does she know what things cost?
Does he know what it feels like to delay gratification and save up some money over a period of time (days/weeks for preschoolers – weeks, months for older kids)
This is where we can begin to teach our kids about money. We can move on from there to have them take responsibility for some money – for instance: If you give your son money to buy lunch once a week at school, try giving a month’s worth of money and have him allocate how much is for each week and make the money last until the end of the month. You can do this in baby steps if necessary – work with him to divide the money into envelopes – one for each week. Check in and see how it is going, holding him accountable. This begins to teach your son increased responsibility around money…and gives him the feeling “I am capable.”
If saving, spending and giving are important, you have an opportunity to teach your daughter that out of a weekly or monthly allowance, a certain percentage is to be allocated to each area. This means that she learns the responsibility of managing the money. She uses the money to buy her goodies and when it is gone, she needs to wait for the next allowance payment. In addition, when it comes time to donate money – she can used the money set aside for giving and feel that she has contributed.
Of course, giving back to the community isn’t all about money – it also about time and families can teach that concept by modeling it year round. Giving back starts at home (How do we each contribute to the workings of the family?) and then spreads out in radiating circles (neighbourhood, school, extended family, friends, broader community).
Lastly, when teaching about giving back, it is important to contemplate a family’s reasons for giving – is it about gaining notoriety and recognition for giving (external motivation) or is it about sharing with a greater community (internal motivation)? Our words and actions around our reasons for giving do not always match up; in today’s very public society, giving seems to be linked with publicizing our generosity externally (via tweets, Facebook or otherwise), rather than simply sharing and enjoying the quiet, internal satisfaction.
This week: Gain an awareness of what your kids understand about money through your habits, words and actions. Decide one thing that you will do to further your child’s understanding of money, responsibility, delayed gratification or giving. It only takes baby steps and will make a difference to your child now and in the future.
Teaching Kids About Money – want to learn more?
Our downloadable recording is here to guide you in teaching your kids about money. We teach about allowance and provide strategies for toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged kids and teens.
This week, save $5 with promo code KIDCENTS