More often than not, children will do what they see, not what they are told. It is, after all, one of the most basic facts of life. Just as we cannot shout instructions in an attempt to discipline and then expect our children to be soft spoken, we cannot be irresponsible, impulsive and casual with money and expect our children to be any other way. The age old adage of practice what you preach takes on a whole new interpretation when it comes to life lessons to teach children.
Here are some life lessons (not just money lessons) to ensure you are practicing before you go about preaching to your children
1. Control your impulses
Giving in to your impulses is not just an affliction that strikes the young. After all, how many times have you had to wage war with yourself where you have to struggle to put your credit card back into the pocket? If children see you losing this battle more often than not, it is only a matter of time before those tantrums begin. You give in to the latest fad and junior will follow suit, so try putting a stop to that one.
2. Save and you shall be saved
Saving is a life lesson best learnt as a child; and by that we mean at the piggy bank stage. Whether it is coins that you are slipping into the piggy or deposits in your bank account, the concept remains the same. So when your child sees you saving money – or spending it prudently with the aim of saving – it gets ingrained in their mental make-up and they start to treat their pocket allowance accordingly. #truestory
A very simple lesson that must be taught by example, especially because learning it from experience can be quite painful!
3. A credit card may be plastic, but it is definitely not a toy
The credit card is a convenience, if used correctly. It can also become a problem for you, your finances, and the values that you teach your kids. The very term ‘credit’ is considered a bad word in certain cultures, so you can well imagine the lessons learnt if a child is brought up in an atmosphere that encourages spending more than one can afford.
Use your plastic responsibly, show them that monthly bills must be paid on time, so that your children know that spending recklessly has consequences.
4. Travel: luxury versus experiences
Travelling with the children is as much an education as the formal one they get at school. The take-away from any trip are lessons that form young minds and personalities. So when you make your bookings, make sure that the entire itinerary is not a breeze. We are not suggesting that all you do is rough it out and get exhausted on your holiday; only that a variety of experiences will serve to present a contrast to a young impressionable mind.
Money can buy you the best in travel, but nothing beats simple experiences. For starters, pull your own weight and let them pull theirs – we’re talking suitcases here!
5. Accepting people is an important life lesson
Accept the word ‘different’ for all its interpretations. This is the only way that your children will be tolerant of other people and cultures. We tend to be rigid when it comes to race, religion and even nationality, and pass the same uncompromising attitude on to the younger lot.
Start with simple things like introducing yourself – and the kids – to world cuisines, languages and traditions, whether through travel, books or through education.
6. Negotiating traffic equals going through life
Ever wondered how much time your children spend sitting with you in the car? This is actually quality time that can make or break a young mind. Seriously! All those hours spent cussing at traffic and other drivers, when you are oblivious to the fact that that the child in the back seat is partially traumatised and fully absorbing your rage – bad example in tolerance. Take a deep breath every time you get behind the wheel and pick on a fun thing to discuss with your child.
No amount of money can ‘fix’ your children’s character if they aren’t brought up with the right set of habits and values. So let’s try to imbue our young ones with good values by being good role models for them.