I am fully persuaded that one of the reasons why a lot of adults and parents in Africa find themselves caught up in the vicious cycle of debt is because we have not been trained in ‘financial savvy-ness’ from a young age. By the time we wake up to realise that we could have been better stewards of our financial resources, we are often already knee-deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet. Although these sapping financial predicaments are redeemable –albeit with much pain, sacrifice and sweat –they may have been avoided had we been conditioned to use money wisely from a tender age.
We –the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers of this current generation –therefore owe it to our children to train them early and consistently on matters of correctly handling money
Toddlers to Preschoolers
Although children at the toddler-preschool stage are still very green on numeracy skills they are able to learn some principles on the value and usage of money. The following are a few suggestions on how to impart these.
- Take your toddler when you go shopping at times. They need to see you picking the items you have planned to buy and to hear you saying, ‘No, not this time’ to the sweets, ice-cream and chips that are not on the budget. If you are in the habit of writing a shopping list, it helps for a child to see you making reference to it as you shop. This seemingly small act instills within them the value of having a budget and sticking to it.
- At the till, when your toddler sees you paying for the things you have taken out of the trolley and put on the counter, it registers within him that there is a transaction that needs to be made for things that have been collected in the trolley. They realise that money needs to be given in order for commodities to be obtained. They appreciate the value of money.
- An exercise I started doing with my daughter from the age of about five (which was not only an exercise in money-consciousness but also an exercise to build her confidence) was to give her money to buy something small like a packet of milk or a loaf of bread or a packet of chips. It taught her the act of buying something and receiving change, whilst it also developed her confidence to interact with older people.
- A piggybank (which doesn’t have to be fancy and could even be a plastic bottle or tin container slit to allow in coins) is a great way of instilling the principle of saving in your toddler or preschooler. It helps them to learn that at times their money is not enough to buy what they want and they need to save up some more; whilst at other times it’s so fulfilling for them when what they have saved up is enough to buy what they want. They learn the principle of saving and delayed gratification
- Cultivating a habit of often not succumbing to a child’s demands when one goes shopping or when they want a toy that is like their friend’s or a dress like their cousin’s, is also a way of teaching a child to live within their means
- If your child goes go to church, it’s a good discipline at this toddler-preschool stage to give them money to put in the offering basket. Additionally, if you believe in giving money to charity or beggars or to the guards who watch over your vehicle in a public area, this teaches your child to be giving and not to always expect something in return for the money given.
These are a just few among many tips that can help you get started on raising a toddler-preschooler to become money conscious and financially savvy.
What other practical ideas do you suppose might help to start financially-conditioning your child from a tender age?