What lessons are you teaching your children about money?

My son started grade one this year, and sport is becoming a big factor in our lives. Besides the obvious consideration of what sporting interests will cost us as parents (think of a full cricket or soccer kit, or golf clubs), I have been intrigued by the field-side interactions I have witnessed of late.

“Come on, Liam, for every goal you score I will give you R10.”
“Ethan, you will get R50 for each lap you swim.”

I wonder how this form of encouragement works. When the kids get in the car after the match or gala, do they ask for the money and do the parents then give them the money? And what do the kids then do with the money? What are we teaching our kids about money?

I tried this on my son, the goalkeeper. I said to him (in private), “My boy, for every goal you save, I will give you R10.” He did quite well, but at no point did he look at me and say, “Dad, I have saved six goals, so you need to give me R60.” En route home, he never asked and has never asked since. I now know that money is not a driving factor for my son. I believe my just being there supporting him is enough for him to want to try improve all the time.

For adults, I know monetary reward can be a motivator for harder work, greater innovation, better performance – and there is nothing wrong with setting goals in this regard. And I believe we are equally responsible for cultivating a positive attitude to money in our children.

Meaningful money lessons

Here are some ideas to help our children have a healthy relationship with money:

  • Money is often a hot topic for parents, and at times, our feelings can be quite negative, with costs adding up and the related stress increasing. Our kids pick up on these anxious chats and negative vibes and then associate them with money. Try to keep money conversations with your kids positive and have the hard discussions with your spouse when they are asleep.
  • We can teach our kids that it is not hard to make money; they must just find opportunities. There are lots of problems in the world, and we can teach our kids how to solve problems and reward them with money for being innovative. This way they understand by solving something on their own can lead to making money.
  • Quality schooling is vitally important but don’t undervalue the lessons in reading at home, listening skills, self education and talking to successful people to learn how they think and work.
  • “If you are doing what you love, you will never work another day in your life”. We have all heard this sage adage. Encourage your children from a young age to use their natural talents, abilities and passions to think of solutions to fix problems. Don’t be afraid to teach your kids to think big … the more we allow ourselves to think deeply, the more we are likely to get paid one day, or pay ourselves.
  • Encourage your kids to do as much as possible at a young age. But if they fail, they shouldn’t move on to the next thing automatically. Persistence is crucial and failure is not fatal. Success is reached by failing over and over again.
  • Teach your kids to respect people on all levels in society. A car guard is working to put food on the table for his family. Just because he has a different job and maybe earns less than us, doesn’t mean he is not a man. He is a man providing for his family and this should be respected.
  • Money makes you happy. We have all heard this. Money in your bank account can possibly make life easier or allow you to feel some degree of security, but no amount can create contentment. Happiness comes from family, friends and love. We should instill this value in our kids. We need money to survive for sure, but there are no guarantees of happiness – that’s up to us.

Enjoy the last vestiges of summer and embrace the promise of winter with lots of enthusiasm!

Warm regards

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