It’s never to early too start teaching your children about money and the importance of financial responsibility. Even at the tender age of four KC understands that you must work to earn money and that money once earned buys important things that we need. While his understanding is very basic (daddy goes to work, we have money, we can now buy food) it is the foundation on which everything else is built.
The Money Talk
Teaching preschoolers about money is easier than you may think. It simply starts with a conversation. Like I did, you can explain that Daddy and Mommy go to work to earn an income to support the family. Money can be a very hard concept to understand so allowing them to hold real cash while talking about it will help them make a connection.
Next explain how this money they are holding will pay for the food they eat, the house they live in, the toys they play with, and the TV they like to watch. By relating it to them and the things they feel are important it creates yet another connection.
Saying “No” Is A Good Thing
Too often parents say yes when they should be telling their children no. I have even been guilty of doing just that. BUT saying no to your child is not a bad thing. While we are denying them their immediate wants we are teaching them two valuable lessons.
First you are teaching them delayed gratification. In our modern world of instantaneous gratification learning to wait for the good things is important. Out in the “real world” getting every little thing you want just isn’t reality.
Second telling them no followed by its not in our budget this week will reinforce the importance of creating a budget and living by it. It will also teach them to save for the things they really want instead of barrowing or charging them on a credit card.
Use Learning Opportunities
Take advantage of learning opportunities to further the money conversation. When at the store use cash to make your purchases, better yet let them “pay” for the items. This allows your child to see the exchange of money for goods.
If your family attends church, give your child the privilege of putting the donation into the offering plate. Take the opportunity to explain that this monetary donation is helping the church, their friends, and their community.
Giving children the opportunity to earn a “pay check” in exchange for age appropriate chores not only reinforces the work / money earned connection, but can help develop a work ethic and learn the importance of being responsible.
Lead By Example
Now that your child understands how you get money it’s time to show them repeatedly how to use it properly. Remember young children learn best by example.
As easy and convenient as using the credit and debit card is, you miss the opportunity to show them the exchange of money for needed items. Seeing you use a piece of plastic will not teach your preschooler these important lessons. It my even send confusing lessons on what money is and the proper use of it. Your older child may get the impression that you can “buy stuff” with a credit card just like magic without realizing that you need to pay the bills even if you put it on a credit card.
Pay your bills at the kitchen table. Every week I pull out my budget book, my bills, my checkbook and sit down at the kitchen table to pay the bills. Every week my children see me balance the checkbook, write out the bills, KC helps me put the stamp on the envelope and put it in the mailbox. Each week I tell him, “Mommy is paying this bill so that we can have lights in our house”, or “Mommy is paying this bill so we have a nice house to live in”. In this small way I am modeling that we must pay our bills to have things we need. He sees that this isn’t just a one time thing, and he is learning in a very basic way to be responsible with money.
I know that talking about money isn’t something a lot of parents, including mine, talk about with their children. However, one of the best thing we can do for our kids is to turn money into a regular conversation, remembering to stay positive and keeping it age appropriate. By taking the time to make this a part of your regular routine you are creating a future for your child where they have a positive relationship with money.
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This post was shared on the Made For Kids linky party. November 2, 2015