We all want our children to be happy, but as most parents know, there's a fine line between a happy child and a spoiled child. So, how do you treat and reward your child without spoiling them? And how do you deal with a spoiled child if you already have one? Here are some suggestions.
Teach your kids about money
It's essential for parents to teach children about money—and do it early. According to a University of Cambridge study, children start grasping basic money concepts by age 3, and their ideas about money are pretty well established by the time they are 7. In addition, a large-scale study by the Brookings Institute found that financial literacy has a direct correlation to future financial success.
The best way to start imparting such knowledge? Give your kids an inside look at your family's own finances. Instead of making how much your family spends each month and how much things cost a taboo, off-limits topic, include your kids in discussions about your budget and how you make financial choices. When they realize the top-of-the-line phone they want costs almost as much as the family's monthly grocery budget, they'll better understand why you gave them a less expensive phone for their birthday.
Encourage your kids to work
For much of their lives, money has just appeared, as have toys, clothing, food, and just about everything else kids enjoy. But when they have to earn money to buy what they want, everything changes. Nothing stops a spoiled child faster than when they figure out how long it takes to save up for a $500 tablet when they're making $7.50 an hour. When that realization hits, they quickly gain a real-world understanding of the value of money. Ideally, they'll also gain some appreciation for the work and sacrifices their parents make to give them the things they have.
Not only does work put money into perspective for kids, but it also gives them the ability to make financial choices for themselves. They may not always be good ones, but you'll be able to monitor your kids, help them learn from any mistakes, and develop better money habits.
Have your kids save for things they want
Speaking of that $500 tablet, figuring out how to save up for it with a $7.50 an hour part-time job is perhaps one of the important financial experiences a young person can have. Even if they're too young to work, saving their allowance or gift money has the same impact. Saving for something they want also teaches them patience and delayed gratification, which can translate into greater financial responsibility and awareness later in life.
You can still treat your child—while not spoiling them—by offering to match or contribute to their savings so they can reach their goal faster. Using the tablet example, tell them if they save $250, you'll pay for the rest.
Teach kids the value of giving
Another way to avoid raising spoiled children is to teach them the importance and value of charitable giving. Donating money encourages empathy and an understanding of the needs of others. Countless studies have shown giving makes people happier and a 2018 study from the University of Arizona found children who learn to give are more likely to develop healthy financial habits in the future as well.
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