I have a confession to make: I lead a double life. In my job as a teacher, I was known for being a child-whisperer with a no-nonsense approach. My principal shifted all the stinkers to my room because of this and my teaching career was richer and more vibrant as a result. In the classroom, I have discipline to spare.
As a mommy, I’m an anemic version of a noodle.
It kind of drives my husband batty. He sees me lay down the law time and again for other people’s kids but is perplexed by how I can, at a mere threat of a chin quiver, do a 180 with our daughter Liv.
I wish I had an answer for him, but I don’t. All I can say is hearing her cry is more challenging to me than watching, for the fourth time in six months, the entire Avatar series (which is a great show and I’ll admit to falling equally in love with as she did).
But there is one thing I surprisingly get my firm on for, and that’s money. It helps that my husband is an accountant; his skill set of being logical with money coupled with my strength in understanding children has resulted in a groovy little plan that boils down to three big ideas:
1. Communicate Your Values About Money to Your Children
First, you have to be clear about your money and its value in your life. Once that’s in place, initiate conversations about money, where it comes from and where it goes. Apply it directly to your family life ~ where mommy and daddy go to work every day, how the money gets from the company to your bank, how it gets spent, and what you spend it on.
If your child is very young, these conversations happen in small pieces over time, and it’s a good idea to talk about it as it happens (in a bank, at the grocery store, and so on). We had conversations like this for a good while before we started allowances with Liv, wanting to make sure we established a good base for understanding before applying these concepts to her.
2. Give your Child Ownership of Earnings
We knew that to make this a life-long lesson, we needed to lose the arbitrary and keep it applicable to our daughter’s life. Making a plan together with your child is key in this step. Before bringing the idea to her, my husband and I brainstormed several options that could work, like the use of a point system compared to an hourly or per chore wage.
We presented the idea of ‘work’ to her and allowed her to make sense of it and sculpture it in her own way. She tried several options before settling on one that works well for her, and because of that she’s completely on board with us. Let me make it clear, though, that we never gave her the option to do chores or not; the choices all centered around how she would be compensated for her time and effort and what sorts of chores she could do, and do well.
3. Decide What to Do with the Dough
It’s never too early to teach someone the importance of smart spending and saving. Giving them this experience now will make it less likely your kid is the one writing bad checks to Dominoes in college. So when Liv started raking in the big bucks, we decided it was time to teach her about the importance of saving some of what you earn. I’ll admit it took a little Jedi mind tricking to get her on board with the idea of putting her money in someone else’s hands, but once it started adding up (and let’s face it, to a little guy, fifteen dollars is pretty impressive) she seemed to gain a sense of pride. Couple that with bank statements coming to the house monthly with her name on it, which she now files alongside ours, and she’s sold.
This saving idea has even spilled over for her. Where once she spent her money as fast as she earned it, she is now able to keep several weeks of allowance in her own ‘vault’ for a toy or game she’s had her eye on.
Need to know more tangible tips on what, when and how? This article from Mom's Homeroom lays out some practical advice in a very concrete way.
By Sharon Linde, Education Blogger for SmartParenting