Teaching Children Money Habits for Life
The life-long benefits of teaching children good money habits make it well worth the effort. Children who are not taught these lessons pay the consequences for a life-time. Some parents don't teach children about money because they think they shouldn't talk about money with children, don't have the time, or think they don't have enough money. Parents should take the time to teach children about money regardless of their income and should start when children are young.
Most people have strong feelings and opinions about money, based on childhood experiences and the values and beliefs of their families. Most often, these experiences, values, and beliefs are different for each parent. It is vital for the healthy development of children that parents talk about these feelings and opinions and establish a consistent approach to teaching children about money.
Here are some questions that can help parents focus discussion about money and children:
- How can we create an open environment in which our family can discuss money issues?
- How should our children receive money? Will we give them allowances or use another method?
- What are our family values and attitudes about money that our children may be observing?
- What do we communicate about money?
- How can we structure learning experiences about money?
- How will we deal with our children's differences in handling money? These differences occur by their stage of development, special needs, or personality differences.
- How should we respond to the effects of advertising and peer pressure on our children's buying requests?
Here are some guidelines parents can keep in mind as they begin the financial socialization of their children:
- Guide and advise rather than direct and dictate how the child's money should be used.
- Encourage and praise the child rather than criticize and rebuke actions taken.
- Allow children to learn by mistakes and by successes.
- Be consistent while taking children's differences into account.
- Include all family members in money management discussions, decision making, and activities as appropriate for their age.
- Explain to children what they can and cannot do and the consequences of violating the limits.
- As children get older increasingly include them in discussions of limits and consequences.
- Expect all family members to perform unpaid, routine household chores based on their abilities.
Express your desire to have things you can't afford. Children need to know that parents say “no” to themselves, too.
Danes, S.M., & Dunrud, T. (2008). Teaching Children Money Habits for Life. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Extension.