Around six months ago, I declared I was going to “unspoil” my kids.
My kids are pretty well-behaved, but I wanted to start teaching them about responsibility and the value of a dollar.
Even though my kids are young — three and five — I’ve still found some ways to start instilling financial responsibility in them.
Here are several ways to unspoil your young children and teach them about money:
Give them simple chores — without pay
As a child, I was never made to do any chores. No washing the dishes, running the vacuum, or even cleaning my room. I think this was a big mistake.
My mom, who worked a day job, tried to do it all — but could never really keep up. Instead of making her three children contribute to the household, she overworked herself. Since this was all I knew, I thought it was normal. Now that I know differently, I don’t want my kids to think they never have to make household contributions.
When children are given age-appropriate jobs to do each day or week, it begins to instill a sense of responsibility in them. Even very young kids should have a regular set of unpaid responsibilities, and they shouldn’t have to be bribed for these basic tasks.
For example, my three- and five-year-old daughters help me fold laundry. They also clean their own rooms, help with dishes, and pick up their toys after they’re finished playing.
As you can imagine, kids this age aren’t going to clean to an adult’s standards — but that’s not the point. As long as my kids are putting in their best effort to help me, I don’t criticize their work. (Though I may correct it when they’re not looking!)
Pay them for extra jobs
Even though I think that children shouldn’t be paid for their regular chores, I do support paying them to do extra work.
My oldest daughter will often ask if I have any jobs for her, so she can “feed” her piggy bank with a dollar or two. I’ll let her dust or (try to) sweep, or do some other small job so that she can earn her own money. This shows her how to work to get what she wants.
Let them spend their own money
When my kids have accumulated a few bucks, I’ll let them take their money to the store and spend it.
By doing this, they understand that it takes several dollars to buy something they really want. Sometimes my five-year-old will bring the money back home and continue to save. My three-year-old, on the other hand, can make a few bucks go pretty far, and is always happy to add to her headband collection.
Just say “no”
Have you ever stood in line behind someone with a young child screaming and crying over a toy or candy bar they want? Well, that might have been me.
When my oldest daughter was three, I had a terrible time not giving in to her wants. I’d tell her no, and she’d scream and cry and make a terrible scene in the middle of the store. Out of sheer embarrassment, I’d give in. When I expressed my frustrations to a family member, she gave me wonderful advice: “Be the woman everyone stares at. Stop worrying what everyone else thinks.” That’s exactly what I did.
After a few of those monstrous scenes in the checkout line, holding a child who was screaming so loudly that you could hear her across a football field, I finally made some progress. It wasn’t too long afterwards that my daughter realized she wasn’t going to get everything she wanted.
Now, before entering any store, I give both of my girls a talk. We go over exactly what we’re going to buy — and whether or not they’ll get anything. The best part? They listen!
There are several ways to unspoil your children and teach them good money habits. The earlier you start teaching your kids about responsibility, work, and money, the easier it will be — for both you and them.
Do your kids need an unspoiling? How are you going to put your plan into practice?