Raising three children has been one of my most significant accomplishments. Teaching those same three children about how to handle money has been tricky at times. Kids hear us discuss money; they see how buying decisions are made; they notice how we react to financial situations. They are always watching, absorbing our stress and our mindsets. There are plenty of money lessons that you can throw at kids to teach them to be responsible adults. Most of us are quick to teach our kids about concepts like saving, investing, and shopping for deals. These kinds of lessons are necessary, but also not enough. We sometimes miss the opportunity to truly nurture skills that will help our kids have a healthy relationship with money.
One of the simplest ways to lower stress and anxiety over money is to focus on what you are thankful for. As a family, we began a daily gratitude practice with our children when they were young. Each night at dinner, they would share three things they were grateful for. Even though it is not directly about money, it can change how we think about finances. Gratitude moves our attention towards what we have instead of what we don’t have and directs our thinking away from negative emotions regarding money.
Learning to be generous is just as important as learning to be grateful. Encourage your kids to use some of their money to contribute to the causes they care about. Show them how you decide on your charitable donations. Show them that giving does not have to mean sending cash. Spend an afternoon with them volunteering for something that interests them like walking dogs at the local shelter or volunteer for a park cleanup. Share with them what volunteer work you have done in the past.
By fostering gratitude and generosity in your kids, you teach them that money is about so much more than getting, spending, or saving. You may not see the effects of these lessons for years, but you can believe that they will have an impact on your children as they grow into the responsible adults you have raised them to be.