Teaching Children About Money
How to foster healthy money attitudes in your children.
Everyday we unconsciously give our children subtle messages about money. Acceptance, love, and money can become confused, effecting their future self-esteem and happiness.
Much of our adult life is spent earning money. How we view what we earn is important. Dr. Yablansky, Professor of Sociology at California State University at Northridge, while writing his book The Emotional Meaning of Money, discovered that a person's self-esteem is tied up with his attitudes towards money. Curiously, it was not how much money a person earned that made the difference but how they viewed what they had. While doing his therapeutic work, he found that many of the emotional overtones towards money stemmed from the attitudes of their parents.
Following are five ways to help your children have healthy attitudes about money.
1. Reward your children's good grades with hugs and words of approval instead of money.
What your children want most is your love and recognition. When money is used as a reward, their feelings of self-worth become connected to money. Rewarding their efforts with loving gestures teaches them to feel good about themselves because of what they accomplished, not because of how much they are paid.
2. Plan a special outing or activity with your children when your work has kept you too busy.
Don't fall into the trap of buying them a toy or giving them money to lessen your feelings of guilt. What they really want is your time. The best gifts are those that include your attention- a game to play together, something for a shared hobby. This will teach them that money cannot replace love.
3. Give an allowance to teach wise money decisions.
Break the link between money and your approval by not using an allowance as a reward and punishment system. Chores are best handled when they are part of a co-operative effort in a family. As they grow older, this lesson will show them the importance of community service.
An allowance should teach your children how to make good money choices, by balancing their spending freedom with your financial guidance. Savings should be a part of an allowance- both long term for college, and short term for the more expensive items they want to buy. This will teach them responsible money handling.
4. Plan regular family meetings to discuss the household budget and allowances.
Children pick up strange ideas about their family's financial situation. On one hand, they see parents as all powerful with an endless supply of money. On the other, a small financial crisis that they overhear the grownups talking about can give them feelings of impending doom. A matter of fact discussion of how family finances are distributed can dispel misinformation.
Involve your children in the family budget. Everyone should have input, but parents have the final say. This is the time to discuss allowances- how big they should be, what expenses they are expected to cover with it, and if it needs to be increased. This will teach them to have realistic views of available monetary resources.
Hiding a family financial crisis, such as losing your job, is not healthy. Instead, use it as an opportunity to teach problem solving maneuvers, practical money handling, and lifestyle adjustments.
5. Monitor your own emotional attitudes towards money.
Whenever a financial matter stirs strong feelings in you, it is important to look more closely at your childhood memories of money. The better you understand yourself, the better parent you can be. Being aware of your own temperament, it's strengths and it's pitfalls, will help you to guide your children.