Yesterday I went to the market to buy groceries with my toddler and she insisted me on buying a surprise egg. It was the same as the one she already has. I tried to distract her and made many excuses. My attempts to avoid buying it only made her crying for it. Her howling in the market was so embarrassing that I had to buy her the surprise egg that she wanted.
Every time we go to the market we end up buying things for our kids that they don’t need. Everything is in abundance in our houses these days. Children already have more than they require. Plenty of toys that they don’t even look at. Plenty of books that fail to attract them. Clothes more than they can wear. Unworn shoes that they have outgrown. With effect children, don’t value things that they have. They never even realise how much hard work has gone in earning the money that has been wasted in buying all those things lying unused.
So, how should we teach them the value of money. As a parent, I am also trying to teach them the same. Here is how I am trying it:
- Take them along to the market:
When we take them along to the market, we must tell them the price of the things that they ask for and give them a choice between two things. We should encourage them to make a wise choice and buy something which is more worthy and useful. Sometimes, distract them from what they are asking and make excuses (though it seldom works).
- Story telling
Stories are a great way of explaining and teaching them life lessons. Children relate to stories. Sometimes telling them stories from real life examples is also a good way to make them understand life lessons. Kids usually love stories from their parent’s childhood, start something with “when we were children…” and you see they are all ears for it (mine often fall for this one).
- Letting them learn from the less privileged ones
I remember how one day my elder one noticed a labourer’s little girl peeing behind a car. My daughter could notice how that little girl was hesitant and looking around for a private spot to pee. My daughter said, “mom, I think I am really lucky to have a house and a good family. I have everything I need. That poor girl does not even have a house and cannot even go to toilet. She does not have even basic facilities like clothes, food and house.”
- Emotional blackmailing
Take the opportunity of their father coming late from the office to explain to them the reason behind his working hard and over time. When they learn that their father works hard to earn money to buy things that they want, they will learn to value it.
- Pocket money
Give them pocket money but give them less then they need. Here is a story in relation to it. A young man and an old man planted a tree in their gardens. The young man gave the tree plenty of water and manure but the old man gave it only the required amount of water and manure. The young man’s tree grew to be very strong and robust one but the old man’s tree looked very average. One night there was a heavy rain and gust of wind. The next morning, the young man found his tree uprooted but the old man’s tree stood there as it was. The young man asked the old man how did it happen. The old man’s reply is a lesson for all of us.
“Look young man, you had supplied everything in abundance and the plant did not have to go in search of it. Your roots did not have to go down. I was supplying just enough to keep it alive. For the rest the plant had to go down into the ground to fulfil its needs. Since your roots were superficial, the rain and wind could easily fell it. Since my roots were pretty deeply grounded, they could withstand the onslaught of nature.”
The same applies to our children too. Provide them less and let them learn to fend for themselves. Providing everything in abundance will only make them unable to learn to provide for themselves.