The Summer Holidays have started, and there is much to look forward to!
The absence of the school routine means you have an opportunity to not be a slave to the clock, and there is time to meet up with family and friends, and do the things you enjoy with your children. For some children who experience school as competitive and pressured, and somewhere they don’t feel particularly successful, a break is great news. It’s also good for introverts to have some respite.
The lack of scheduling in the long school holidays can bring its own problems for some but it also provides a perfect opportunity to take time to focus on getting your children established in some good habits. Parents in our classes have been asking us about pocket money recently. What a great time to teach your children how to manage money as well as values about giving and receiving. Many families will take holidays somewhere other than home and there may be money being spent on meals out and holiday activities. This summer you could focus on teaching your children to appreciate what they have.
So many parents we coach complain they are sick and tired of kids asking for things; “why don’t they value what they have”? “Why are they always asking for more?” It can be hard to be clear and firm and consistent with kids and to not succumb to pester power. It can be so difficult to say NO when faced with your children telling you "you're the best mum in the world. I love you so much - thanks for buying me that game."
Managing money is a life skill and needs to be taught. We give our kids swimming lessons in order to keep them safe in water; we don't throw them in the deep end and expect them to swim. And the same principle needs to be applied to ensuring they are safe with money and know how to budget and how to be canny consumers and savvy savers, if they are going to cope in adult life.
We recommend the following approach to money:
- Start giving your children small amounts of pocket money whilst at primary school. This sends a very powerful message that you trust them and feel they can be responsible with managing money. Allow them to choose how to spend the money instead of buying them treats on a whim.
- Set up 3 jars: saving, spending and sharing – you may decide what proportion goes into each one or leave that up to your child. Having your children wait and save teaches delayed gratification. If they’re saving in a bank account they may even earn interest and learn about compounding.
- Give older children an allowance and have them monitor and be responsible for their mobile phone usage.
- Do talk to your children about the powerful consumer messages the media world employs to entice you to buy goods. Discuss with older children the role of advertising and the manipulation involved. Most kids don’t like the idea of being conned by the conglomerates.
- Children can make contributions to the family according to their age and ability. We usually underestimate what they can do or can be learning to do. Having set chores to do (especially if these are not just about looking after their own things) gives them the sense that they are part of the family and have a role to play and helps them appreciate what is done for them. Don’t give pocket money in exchange for these tasks.
- Having said that it is great to encourage them to realise that money is earnt by effort. Older kids could get a weekend job or offer babysitting or lawn mowing services and younger ones may earn money by doing jobs beyond their normal chores –maybe by washing the car or watering the garden. Any opportunity that enables them to see that we have to work hard to get what we have is a valuable life lesson.
Help your child become more appreciative by:
- Modelling appreciation of things and people. Say thank you of course but also talk about being grateful for what you have and the people in your lives. “I love the way Daddy always checks with me if I need anything when he’s going up to the shops –that’s really thoughtful” “When you asked me if I was missing my mum and dad who are so far away I felt really cherished.” “I love the way Auntie Sally makes my favourite dessert when we go there for Sunday lunch. That makes me feel very cared for.” “This is my special watch that used to belong to Papa. I think of him when I wear it and I take very good care of it so I will always have it to remember him by.”
- Noticing when the children are appreciative and commenting on it “When you say thank you for the dinner I made I feel really appreciated.” “I love it when you say thank you for driving you to Kim’s house. Not only is it polite but it makes me feel that you don’t just take the things I do for you for granted.”
- Appreciate what they do with Descriptive Praise. “I really love it when you do what Daddy asks you to do quickly. Now we have time for two stories! “That’s sensible that you’ve put all the lids back on your felt pens. That way they won’t dry out.” Or drop a thank you note into a lunch box or school bag or on their bedside table or pillow for them to find. Or maybe a text message for an older child.
- Have them earn privileges or treats rather than getting things just because they are alive. E.g. screen time is earned when responsibilities have been carried out.
- Hold them accountable for breakages/losses If kids help pay from their own money (savings or earnings) for lost library books, toys and phones, windows broken by their balls, or paint-filled brushes left to dry out, they learn a valuable lesson about valuing what they have and what others have leant them, rather than assuming someone else will simply ‘buy another’. This should never be done in an angry or blaming way.
- Create gratitude rituals. Many families have a Golden Book in which they record Descriptive Praises for their child each evening. You can extend this to include more general things for which you are grateful or have a different book for it. You could develop a practice of sharing with your child each evening 3 things which made you happy that day. It doesn’t have to be something very significant –it may be that you loved how big and yellow the moon looked this evening.
- Encourage them to donate toys to a local hospital, or give to the old folks’ homes in the form of a baked cake etc. Let them know about the charities you support. Maybe choose some as a whole family.
Have a wonderful summer and come back refreshed to begin the new school year. Is this the time for you to book onto one of our courses, face to face or online?