Teaching children healthy attitudes about money can help them become good money managers who do not use money to manipulate others, says a Weber State College professor.
Brenda S. Singleton, an associate professor of child and family studies and a specialist in family money management, told participants in a recent WSC "Families Alive" conference that children should be taught from a very young age how to handle money."Our whole society is based on money. As parents it's our moral responsibility to teach good money principles," Singleton said.
One of the best ways to teach financial skills is to give children an allowance. Most experts agree that allowances should start when the child is between 5 and 7 years old. The amount can vary, but the idea is to give children a hands-on experience, she said.
"Children need to determine what are their needs and what are their wants. An allowance helps them do that," said Singleton.
"They will probably make mistakes, but it's better that they make mistakes with $1 or $2 than that parents wait to give their children money until they are 18 and have them make $100 mistakes."
Allowances should not be linked to specific tasks, but rather should be given because the children are part of the family, have family responsibilities and share in the family's resources.
"If you link allowance to specific tasks, then in the future when you ask them to do something around the house they'll ask you how much it's worth before they do it," she said.
Withholding allowances as a punishment is not a good idea either, Singleton noted.
"Then you teach children that money is used to hurt people, to manipulate. The main purpose of money is to make life more enjoyable, and children should have positive connotations with money."
Paying for grades is another no-no, she said. The goal of good grades is for children to broaden their interests and understanding. Paying for "A's" does work with some children, but for most the practice makes the grades, not the learning, the goal, she said.
The important thing is to teach the difference between needs and wants and help children make appropriate choices.