Tips To Help Parents Give Healthier Messages About Money To Children
Keeping Up With the Jones
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
Listen to a Podcast with Sharon Scott
We sometimes forget that adults have peer pressure too. And how parents manage that peer pressure can be a learning experience’either positive or negative’for their children. One adult peer pressure involves how we manage and spend our money. We are living in some ‘challenging’ economic times.
Like our children, we may like our toys’ computer, new car, mobile phone or that new pair of too-expensive winter boots. Credit cards allow us to live beyond our means. We save little and want more.
We complain about our children wanting so much, but fail to think about the messages we might be giving them through our examples. We, too, can be guilty of trying to keep up with the Jones. We know that too many children already link their self-esteem with the clothing they wear and the technology they own.
Some tips to help give healthier messages about money:
1. Think about your wants and your needs and make appropriate adjustments. Discuss wants vs. needs with your children. A famous quote by Confucius says, ‘Happiness does not consist of having what you want, but wanting what you have.’
2. Put change in a piggy bank or jar. Let your children see how it adds up and can be designated for something specific.
3. Without a lot of detail it would be healthy for your children to have a concept of what things cost (house payment or rent/food, car payment, utilities, etc.) so that they begin understanding that money does not just come from the bank or a credit card! I vividly recall some of these conversations between my parents when I was in elementary school and I already understood that money didn’t grow on trees.
4. Children need chores that they are not paid for just like you’re not paid to clean the house, pay the bills, run errands, etc. However, give them the opportunity to do some ‘extra’ responsibilities where they can earn a small amount of money.
Teach them various concepts of using their money wisely and saving. Or if your child is older and has a part-time job, a portion of that should be in a savings account dedicated toward some future activity/expense/college, etc.
5. With the holidays coming up, I think it’s beneficial for children to be able to buy presents for parents and siblings, but it needs to preferably be from their own savings. Don’t just hand them money to ‘go shop for Daddy’ as that teaches them nothing, and does not really give them the good feeling that it’s really from them.
The things that money can buy do not make us a better person nor bring happiness. When we role-model healthy money messages for our children we are helping them to learn that it’s what’s inside that counts.
Copyright 2018, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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