If you're already a parent, you've probably experienced the following situation at one time or another: while browsing the aisles of a shop with your young child, they suddenly stop in front of a toy, beg you to buy the object of their desire and, when you refuse, throw a tantrum. No matter how many times you explain that the toy is too expensive, the child just cries and cries. Does that mean you have to give in to their desires? Certainly not. Teaching your child about money is possible and even desirable. How can we do it? Here are six ways to teach your child about the value of money.
When your child expresses frustration through anger, as in the case above, there's no point talking about money. Instead, wait until they’ve calmed down before explaining that they can't have everything they want, that you have to make choices in life and that even can you yourself buy everything you want.
Above all, don't give in to the temptation to give them the toy because you're afraid of disappointing them. That would be doing them a disservice and will not help you either because the child will always want more. There are simple gestures that, even if they're free, bring just as much happiness to your child such as a kiss, a cuddle, a time shared together or a kind word.
Often influenced by their friends and the ads they see on television every day, your child - like all children - has many desires. Put them to the test every time they tell you they want something. Ask them if they really need it and if so, why. Can they live without it? Will they use it for a long time or tire of it quickly?
You don't need to talk to your child about how much you earn or how much the rent costs, but you do need to make them understand that, in life, you have to pay for certain things that are essential for their good health and growth and that, if there's money left over, you can then decide to buy things to treat yourself. It's not enough to go to the bank or the ATM to have money; you have to work, save the money you earn and plan your purchases. By showing them how you plan your budget and stressing the need to save before you spend, you're setting a good example and encouraging your child to develop good habits right from the start.
When you go shopping, take them with you and show them the prices of the items. And for small purchases, have them pay and collect the change themselves. In this way, it will be easier for them to understand the value of money.
And for that, there's nothing like a good piggy bank. Although it may seem outdated at a time when money is increasingly demonetised, it has undeniable educational value. It teaches your child the value of each coin and how sums can add up. Later, by opening a bank account for them, children will understand that the money they have accumulated is in a safe place.
To motivate your child, keep it simple, try to keep it fun and, above all, play down the importance of money. Show them through games and rewards that by managing their money intelligently, they can make it grow and enjoy it. To encourage them to save, suggest they put all their coins under €1 in a transparent jar instead of a piggy bank. In this way, they will see the small capital grow before their eyes and their efforts materialise day after day. Once the jar is full, give them free rein to decide what they want to do with it.
Even budgeting can be fun with a little imagination. Ask them, for example, to find a fictitious job (found in any newspaper with the allotted salary) and a flat or house. They must then write down all the expenses they have to pay to live (electricity, internet, cable TV, furniture, entertainment, etc.) and then calculate the difference between income and expenses.
By following this advice, you'll be giving your child a good foundation for the future. Once they're grown up, they'll have every chance of having a healthier, more balanced relationship with money.
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