It seems to me that lots of parents want to make all their children’s decisions. This creates total dependency. Then they complain because kids can’t do anything for themselves. We’re so obsessed with them not making a mess we won’t let them pour the juice. We’re so nuts about the image they’ll create we won’t let them wear mismatched socks. We’re so focused on them learning the “right” money lessons we won’t let the natural consequences teach them when they make mistakes.
#6 Don’t try to do too much at once. Over-scheduling kids lives doesn’t make them happier. Kids need down time to just hang, think, imagine, process, cope. And jamming a whole bunch of money lessons into one day, week or month won’t work either since time is important for practicing and processing.
#7 Prepare your kids. Telling your kids what you’re going to do helps them create a mind-map of what’s going to happen. Ditto teaching them about money. Lay out what you’ll be teaching them before you get into the actual lesson so they know what to expect. If you’re going to teach about allowances and they ask you if they can hit you up for a loan or an advance, tell them you’re not going to get into loans, advances, work for pay or all the other stuff that can make the discussion really complicated, you’re just going to be talking about how much, how often, and what they can do with their money. You’ll talking about that other stuff next time.
#8 Be prepared. Just as you wouldn’t dream of heading out without a bag of nibblies to hold hunger at bay, you also have to be prepared when you’re teaching kids about money. Don’t try giving a kid her $7 in allowance using a five and a toonie. How will she put away her 70¢ for saving or divvy up money between her Planned Spending and her Mad Money jars?
#9 Routine is your friend. Keep switching the day when you give the allowance and watch your kid eye you suspiciously. Forget to give the allowance and you’ll prove you’re not trustworthy. Change the rules on how the allowance can be used based on every new situation and you’ll teach your kids you’re a scatterbrain. Kids learn best when the messages are consistent. So if you and your partner aren’t on the same page when it comes to the money lessons, you’ll confuse the hell out of your kids.
#10 Know when to let go. It’s not worth all the hassle to get on your kids’ cases about everything. Know when to let things go and just relax. As long as you deliver a consistent message, love them and have their best interest at heart, they’ll turn out fine. If you’re doing anything “because of the principal of the thing,” it’s because you’re too lazy to weigh each decision on its own merit.
Read Gail’s previous blog post for rules No. 1-5, 5 things to remember when teaching kids about money.