One of the trickiest challenges I’ve faced as a parent has been figuring out how to teach my children about مكن عد النقود. I’m not just talking about the basics such as where it comes from and what it’s worth. I find it particularly tricky teaching the secondary aspects of money such as concepts of rich and poor, greed and charity, or spending and saving.
I’ve tried to write down a few of the ideas that I think might be helpful to other parents who are trying to teach healthy attitudes toward money to their children. In these times when monetary concerns are common in many households and in the media, it is more important than ever to help children make sense of the way money works in our society.
1. How money is made – Despite the wall street magicians and the get-rich-quick scams, money is created when someone does something of value for someone else. Every time I heard “daddy, stay home, I don’t want you to go to work today” it was an opportunity for me to say “I have to go to work to make some money to buy you food and pay for the house and get you treats”. This let the kids know that I was going to work for money for everyone’s benefit and made separating a little easier.
But just equating work with money isn’t always enough. If your work is hard to understand or complicated to explain use other examples. I remember one day when my daughter was approaching her 5th birthday, she was very sad and said that she didn’t wan’t to have a birthday. My wife and I were very concerned about this. Finally she said “I just don’t want to grow up because I’ll have to go to work and I don’t know what to do at work. I don’t know how to use a computer and I wouldn’t know what to say to all those people on the phone.”
Because my wife and I do a lot of our work at desks in offices, it was very hard to see what we actually did. I realized we needed to give her concrete examples of ways people made money that she could grasp.
This message can be imparted in so many “teachable moments” every day. From street sellers, to waiters, to fashion designers, actors, almost everywhere you go, you can point out different ways people are working and making money. This kind of universal exposure to the vast variety of occupations gave our kids the confidence that they would certainly be able to grow up and find something they loved to do in order to make money.
At some point (and our kids are just at that age) you can get your kids to propose jobs for themselves to do in order to earn their money themselves. We don’t give out allowances, but we’ve started to reward specific jobs around the house with small amounts of money.
2. What Money is worth – The only way to teach kids what money is worth is by havin them earn it and spend it. When they begin to realize the effort in terms of work that it takes to create enough money for some material goal they begin to understand what money is actually worth.
I like the concept of money as energy. I put my energy into my work, or my children put their energy into washing the dishes and all that energy gets turned into money. They can then give that money to someone else who put their energy into something.
When we are at the produce store buying carrots for example, I point out the prices and we talk about supply chain economics in simple terms. I tell my kids about the farmers that grew the carrots and point out that we have to give them money for their hard work. But it doesn’t end there, I point out that someone else probably picked the carrots, and a truck driver drove them to the store, and all the people who work in the store, and I point out that the reason we pay money for the carrots is for all of those people and all the energy they put into those carrots.
3. Spending vs. Saving – When I was young the discount stores we still called “Five and Dime” because you could supposedly get things for that amount of money. But whatever the store is called in your area, it is a great opportunity to teach kids the value of money by having them spend their own money. We’ll go in with a dollar and we’ll go around looking for things that cost less than a dollar. A few trips to the shop and they get to know what a dollar is worth.
But inevitably there will be something they want that costs more than what they have and this is when you get to teach them about saving. This is the hardest thing for children who have really just figured out that money allows you to get things you want.
I make sure to try and take the kids with me to the bank as often as I can, and I try to go inside to an actual person when I have the time (and if my bank doesn’t charge me for it). This gives the kids a real sense that we can’t just go around spending all the money we make, but we have to save it for things for later. Taking them on deposit trips is more important than just taking them to the ATM to withdraw money. Although I have found that the ATM is a chance for me to reinforce that I’m just taking the money out that I put into the bank on an earlier trip.
4. Greed Vs. Charity – Almost as soon as my kids figured out that money could buy nice things at shops, they began to clamor for us to give them money. While we have been able to subvert this greed by making them do jobs for their money, the greed instinct is pretty strong.
Unfortunately though, we are surrounded in our city by plenty of people in need and we make an effort to teach our children about charity in response to this. Again the best teaching tool we have is direct participation. Whenever we have leftover food from a restaurant, we will make an effort to find someone on the street to give it to. I make an effort to have the children put money in the guitar cases of street musicians because I point out how hard it must be to try and make money that way.