Q: Gratitude is top of mind during the holiday season, but this is a year-round conversation we should be having with our kids, right?
That’s right- parents should be talking to their kids about money and gratitude year-round because kids are targeted by advertisers year-round. The average American child watches about 16,000 TV commercials per year (according to A.C. Nielsen Co). As parents, it’s our job to counter these advertisers and teach kids how to be responsible with their money and grateful for what they have.
I have 5 money lessons for raising thankful kids:
- Discussion Starters
The holidays- Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah- are easy ways to start the discussion with your kids. While you’re passing the turkey, have everyone go around the table and say one person and one experience they’re thankful for. This gets kids thinking about more than monetary items. But don’t limit this to the holidays! You can have this discussion around the dinner table every night.
- Fatten the Pig
From an early age, kids can be assigned tasks and earn an allowance. A 3-year-old can set the table, feed the pet and clean up toys. Teaching kids that hard work leads to rewards is a valuable lesson. But don’t stop there! With every allowance, set aside half for savings in a separate piggy bank. When your kids are asking you for a new toy or item, explain to them how long it will take for them to save enough money, and help them follow through on it. Saving is one of the most important steps in teaching kids the value of a dollar.
- Joy of Giving
As your kids are making their wish-list for Santa, have them make a gift-giving list as well. The gifts don’t have to cost money- a hand-made gift can be fun to give and fun to get. Plus, drawing a picture or baking cookies puts the focus on the experience and the fun of the holidays, rather than receiving gifts. You can also give time by volunteering as a family at an animal shelter, nursing home or soup kitchen.
- Save as a Family
Getting your child involved in the shopping process is a great hands-on experience in money management. Have your kids help you clip coupons and browse through catalogs to compare prices. Then take them to the store and explain how much you are saving. You can even take it a step further, and allow your kids to keep the money they help you save.
- Mistakes Happen
As parents, we are programmed to prevent our kids from making mistakes. But, little mistakes now may help them avoid big mistakes later. Let them make an impulse buy now and then to teach them that their money is limited and it can run out on them. Those are lessons that will stick with them as they grow up.
Q: Gratitude is an important lesson for adults as well as kids, right?
It’s been shown that kids who understand gratitude have better grades and are less likely to get depressed. For adults, gratitude can help us reach our financial goals! A recent study showed when people reflected on things they were grateful for, it increased their financial patience by about 12 percent- they are better able to resist the lure of short term gratification and financially prepare for the future.