Finding Value in Dads Money
Valuing money makes “cents”. Everyone places some type of moral conditions on how highly they regard money. In fact, we plan our whole lives around how important money is, e.g., schools, jobs, marriages, births and divorce. People tend to think of currency as a way to solve all of their problems. As a father, I know how important it is to teach my son the value of a dollar. What I failed to realize is how hard those lessons can become.
Money has no value until we give it value. Placing value on a cash isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you’re three-years-old. Now, my son has come up with this uncanny ability to “look” for change everywhere he goes. We were at his cousin’s house recently and Xander came over to show me what he had found.
“Dada, I found treasure!” he said with a smile. I looked at my sons with his hands open wide full of coins, “Xan, you found coins? Where did you find the coins, son?”
Xander’s smile got bigger as he pointed towards a table, “I found them over there!”
“Xan, those coins don’t belong to you. You need to put them back where they were.”
Xander frowned, “No, no, no! They not keep coins safe! I keep coins safe!!” He placed the handful of coins deep in his pocket and said, “See?”
It was hard to argue with the logic of a three-year-old. He probably would keep the coins safe in his pocket.
Dad is Made of Money
Learning the value of currency is an important concept to learn. I just wish it was easier to teach. My son has practiced on learning his name and the real names of me and my wife. The other day he walked up to me and told me, “Dada, I am Xander Ian!”
“Very good Xan! You know what your name is. Now do remember what my name is?” I asked.
Xan looked perplexed and finally said, “Your name is money!”
I chuckled and said, “No, my name is definitely not money! Think hard and tell me what my name is.”
Xander felt shocked that he had the wrong answer. He gave a funny look and said, “Oh…I wrong! You not money. Your name is BIG MONEY!”
I couldn’t help but laugh out. People have called me many names over the years but big money has never been one of them. If Xander thinks I am big money we might have a problem with the concept of a dollar.
Dads Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
Children are born with no preconceived notions of how the world works. They learn things through watching others and then applying them to life situations.
One of my favorite breakfast treats is cinnamon rolls and I will buy them periodically. The other morning, as I was working on fixing Xander breakfast I asked him, “What would you like for breakfast this morning?”
Xan smiled and licked his lips, “Cinnamon roll….please!”
“We don’t have any cinnamon rolls now. Anything else you would like?”
Xander wasn’t happy with my answer, “I want cinnamon rolls now! You go buy some!”
I knew that Xander was starting to grasp the concept of money and felt it would be easier just to tell him we couldn’t get any now, “Sorry, we can’t go buy any now. I don’t have any money on me.”
Xander frowned and told me how wrong I was, “You have money! You reach into your pocket and get money! You then go buy cinnamon rolls!”
Teaching a young child the value of money isn’t easy. They tend to believe that money is easy to come by and readily available. I know as he gets older he will understand the laws of supply and demand.
What do you mean I have to save money?
Money makes the world go round
Here are a few tips on children and money
1. Say no – Never be afraid to tell your child that you are saving money for a special buy. It helps a child to learn that not everything in life comes instantly.
2. Learn to earn – Make your child earn their weekly allowance and don’t just give it to them. My son is only 3-years-old and I have tried to convey that if he helps me pick up toys and does what he is told he will earn a small allowance each week.
3. Valuing self and others – Giving to others and learning to save is a valuable life lesson to know. I work with my son about the value of savings by getting him to place 10% of the money he earned into his piggy bank. I also feel it is important that he understands it is okay to give to good causes. Since he doesn’t have a huge allowance (just a few dollars a week) one of the best ways I have discovered is matching him on his donations.
Teaching a child about dollars and cents isn’t easy. Parents will go through lots of trials and errors in working with their child. How does money work in your family? Do you have set expectations for your child about earning money? If an allowance is given, does your child earn it or do you just give them a set amount each week? Tell me more in the comments!
Bruce Sallan just wrote a very good article Communication and Money: How to Communicate with your Kids About Money be sure and check it out for some great tips!
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