Were you taught about money as a child? Where did your money habits come from? Our early experiences with money shape our relationships with it as we age. This is why it is important to ensure we instill good money management habits in our children when they are young. Today we will be sharing some tips on how you can do this.
Decide how they are going to receive money.
Some of us may have been raised receiving money after we completed chores. While raising my teenager I found that this method can backfire. It got to the point where he would ask how much he is getting paid for each task he needed to complete. So we opted to give an allowance that was more for learning how to use money and we expected chores get done regardless as it was a household responsibility. A good rule of thumb is one dollar for each year of their age when you decide to do an allowance. A good age to start is around 4-5 years old as they are starting to understand money concepts at this time. You can decide if you want to offer an allowance weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
If you have an older child, you can teach them some basic entrepreneurial skills and have them do odd jobs for neighbours, start a lemonade stand, car wash, walk dogs, etc. You may even think about doing a family garage sale and your child can sell some things of theirs at their own table.
Buy or create a piggy bank that allows them to save, donate and spend.
A good example would be the Moon Jar or you can also have them make their own using a shoe box. Your child can then split up their money into the three different banks and as such, learn to save, give and have money for themselves. You can decide as a family how much money goes into each bank but I encourage saving more than you spend as it will set good habits when they get older (we can hope). They can decide what they want to save their money for and if they are old enough they can write down their goals in relation to obtaining it. If they cannot write yet, have a discussion around what they can do to save enough money and how long it might take. To make it visual you could draw a large rectangle with incremental amounts along the side and then colour it in each time more money is added so they can see the progress.
Let them decide who they want to donate money to (you may need to offer some ideas). You can bring them there to donate it so they can experience the act of giving first hand. For the money they can spend, let them spend it freely on things you agree on in advance and let them learn from their mistakes when they buy something that turned out not being a good purchase. Even adults learn that lesson often!
Teach them to avoid impulse buys.
Marketing can be fierce and children easily fall for it because they don't understand the trickery behind it. A good rule of thumb that I work with is to wait for at least 24 hours to buy an item that I am interested in. This is something you can teach your child the next time they say they want something. Ask them to wait it out or look at other options first before they make a decision. Reflect on it if they decide not to buy it after all or they make a different decision.
Be a good role model.
Try to follow your own rules as much as possible. Talk to your children about money you are saving for a large project and show them how you are helping the community by donating to others. When you go shopping with them and you see something you really want, tell them you are going to wait for a couple days before making that decision. If you decide not to buy it, communicate that with them and tell them you are happy you waited and why.
Teach them about minimalism and the effects of having too much stuff.
There are so many authors and studies that talk about the negative effects of "stuff". Why do we always feel the need to have all of these things that often get forgotten about in a day? Why do we buy all the hottest gadgets only to find them on the bottom of the toy box a week later? Children don't need these things, the marketing companies make us feel like they do though! There is a big movement right now to get experience gifts for children. Take them to the zoo, on a trip, get them a membership somewhere or just be together as a family playing games outside! Those memories are far more superior to the plastic junk that ends up causing us anxiety.
Teach them how to budget.
A great activity for older children is to think about creating a simple budget with them that highlights how much money is coming in and where it is going. Write down the amount they receive each month and what source it comes from. Then write down the amounts they have to spend, save and donate. Maybe they are paying a monthly fee for a game they like or for a cell phone. Write those in there too so they can see how a budget works. Ensure each dollar is assigned to a category.
Resources for Teaching Kids About Money
TD Bank - Teaching Children About Money
Ultimate Resource for Teaching Kids About Money
By now you have likely encountered the world of podcasts and if not, you have at least heard of them. Podcasts are a huge part of my life and I enjoy listening to them while I shower, while I drive and most recently with my 4 year old son. The podcast world has a lot to offer both children and families and today, I would like to share some of my top finds with you.
This one is so lovely when you are putting your child to bed or just sitting down to meditate. It offers some guided imagery and breathing activities to help them relax. This has become a nightly routine for my son and I and he never forgets to ask for it! The narrator has such a calm, relaxing voice.
What If World
This one allows the listeners to send in their questions and the narrators will act out the answer in a funny, creative story for kids. You can expect stories like, "What if Robots Turned into Dragons" and "What if it Rained Candy".
Little Stories for Tiny People
This one offers original children's stories which are read in a very engaging way to captivate the children. They are quite long as well with some around 25 minutes in length. A great option for a drive or while you are cooking dinner.
This is a science podcast geared toward kids. The podcast is run by a scientist and they discuss scientific discovers in a family friendly way. I would say this is more appropriate for the elementary school crowd.
Wow in the World
Another great science podcast for little listeners. Learn about black holes, germs, the earth and more!
Another great option with unique stories tailored to kids.
This podcasts offers educational insights for adults and older children alike. They have some great guests such as authors, astronauts, entrepreneurs, teachers, nutritionists and more!
People generally hope that their child will have a happy, healthy life. Of course, there will be challenges along the way, but being a child should be full of fun and wonder, right? As I recount my childhood, I remember endless days outdoors, bike rides, a strong community and many friends in my neighbourhood that played together day after day. As I look upon today’s children, I do not see this same type of lifestyle. I see children rushed from one activity to the next and spending excess amounts of time on computers and mobile devices. Gone are the days that children get to enjoy long periods of free play and time to explore their thoughts and ideas. What is the cost of these changes to our children?
I have worked in the childcare field for 17 years. In those years, I have had a front row seat to the decline in children’s mental health. I have always believed that some of the aforementioned lifestyle changes have been a large contributor to this change. When I was young, I do not remember any of my friends in middle childhood struggling with mental health disorders. Was this because we had the freedom that we did or maybe because people were not as aware of these issues back then? Could it be that we are more aware because of the overuse of social media?
One study suggests that mental health issues observed in Canadian children and youth have remained relatively stable between the periods of 1994/1995 and 2008/2009, with the exception of hyperactivity which has increased by 0.16% during these two periods (McMartin, Kingsbury, Dykxhoorn & Colman, 2014).
In contrast, an online article written by Dr. Peter Gray (Psychology Today, 2010) alludes to the decline in mental health in children. In his article, he talks about how anxiety and depression may be a result of the lack of control a person has over their life. This has been backed up by participant feedback via the “Rotter’s Scale” and “Internal-External Locus of Control Scale”. The Internal-External Locus of Control Scale was a tool created in 1950 by Julien Rotter. The survey has 23 questions, from which a participant can choose answers that alternate between “controlled by the person” and “controlled by circumstances outside of the person”. The theory being that participants who scored higher on the internal questions would have a more successful life. If the score leaned more toward the external side, that person was in greater danger of facing mental health challenges and general adversity in their life. In 2002, they began to notice that the results from this test were beginning to lean more toward external. The results suggested that children between the ages of 9-14 are feeling more like their lives are controlled by external circumstances in which they have no control.
So what has caused the shift from internal control to external control? In the book “Free Range Kids” written by Lenore Skenazy, she discusses how parents have become overly involved in their children’s lives and urges families to start to look at their parenting style. She makes the recommendation to reduce helicopter parenting and increase the amount of freedom children have. Where can we give our children the opportunity to make their own decisions? Can we just allow them to be kids and avoid over scheduling them in various activities?
When I talk to many adults about this issue, a common response is, “they are just children, what do they have to be anxious or stressed about?” Well, how about a disruptive family life, poor grades in school, the daily news, poor sleep, developmental delays, fitting in with peers, social media, parental pressure, being overweight, losing a loved one or pet, severe trauma, bullying, not having their daily needs met and just not having time to be a kid. This only begins to touch on the myriad of things a typical child may deal with in our current society.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, there are approximately 1.2 million Canadian children and youth experiencing a mental illness and only 20% of them will receive treatment they need. Furthermore, in a 2011 report published by the World Health Organization, it has been noted that by 2030, depression will likely be the leading cause of disease burden around the world.
How can we provide support in shifting some of these trends?
While some studies show that mental health stays relatively the same in children over a period, others clearly disagree. Through observation, I have seen and felt a huge difference over the past 17 years. Children today are having more trouble focusing on tasks, their attention span is short and there are many behaviour problems. Parents are coming to me desperate for answers and the systems in place that are suppose to help them are failing them. It can take up to 10 years to resolve these types of issues in the Canadian health care system. While I see various agencies trying to make a difference, we have a long way to go to help children and people as a whole in this area. Our actions toward the children in our lives shape who they are. Spend your days building them up and giving them the skills they need to stand in their power.