I’m often asked how old kids should be when you begin teaching them about financial literacy or what book children should read or what skills should be focused on. I think sometimes it seems like trying to teach kids about financial literacy is a huge task that some parents don’t want to do. Let’s make this simple: use everyday situations called “teachable moments” to instruct on what good habits are, encourage critical thinking conversations, and model those habits.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Teachable moments are those opportunities that children provide by way of questions. You know, “Daddy, how does money get in the ATM” or, “Auntie, let’s stay in the hotel with the gold toilets, we’re rich, right”. We’ve all been there. Sometimes we’re too busy to sit down and have an intelligent conversation about these topics, but many times we have the opportunity to provide a valuable life lesson with just a few minutes worth of your time.
During the conversation encourage the child/youth to think critically about what you’re saying, ask questions, and even challenge your wisdom. Only through a clear understanding, through their own process, can children begin to create their experiences with money. Have no doubt, that children are watching what you’re doing and viewing the habits of others to start deciding how they feel about money and money habits.
Which leads me to the last, crucial, part of using teachable moments to help children understand financial literacy. After you’ve shared the correct habits/behaviors and encouraged the child to think critically about the topic, you must make an effort to model those habits. All the talking in the world won’t blind your child to what’s going on in the home.
You don’t need to have a huge discussion with your child when they turn 16 or schedule weekly meetings to discuss the current state of events, unless you want to. Taking a few moments when you’re child provides and opportunity for a teachable moment will allay the stress surrounding money for both you and your child.