One of the common questions I hear in my work with parents is, “How do we talk to our kids about money?” It is one thing to delve into our own feelings and emotions around money; it is another to speak to our kids about it.
Begin by understanding that money IS a part of your family’s life. Treat it as such. Part of what our kids will pick up on, especially if we don’t talk about it, are the subconscious emotions we feel towards money- be it ease or anxiety, overwhelm or confidence, excitement or fear.
You can begin simply by inviting the topic of money into your family and the easiest way is through play. If you have a toddler or young child, allow them to safely “play” with money. Have them transfer coins from one jar to another or make a coin collage. Let them throw 100 pennies into a lake and make 100 wishes. Be creative. Your kids will teach you how to have fun with money again. You’ll begin to discover any underlying beliefs about whether you think money is “dirty” or “evil”.
If you have an older child, start asking them what they think about money. What they like about it and what they don’t. You will be amazed! More important than their answers, emphasize that talking about money is OK. The more ease and connection they feel with money at an early age, the more they can flourish with it later in life, regardless of how much they have.
But wait! Life happens. Sometimes our child wants something we just can’t afford. She starts to whine. It’s hard to keep your cool when you’re working hard to keep the family afloat. How do you handle it?
1. Take a deep breath and stay calm. Face the money situation in the moment. Delaying money conversations for too long will contribute to unresolved money issues for your child.
2. Own your money emotions – Recognize what is triggered for you in your child’s request. Children will make requests all the time. Gain clarity about what it evokes in you and communicate from your ground.
3. Give the limit– Limits teach children how to identify, feel and manage their own emotions. It helps them not blame money for unprocessed feelings.
4. Receive the response – “Receive” any reaction your child may have. Let it move through her. From that place discuss if a future solution can be found.
Money is a part of our family life. We can’t change that. What we can change is how we relate to it.
Written by Elizabeth Husserl, M.A.
Elizabeth Husserl, M.A. is founder of Inner Economics, a money management framework combining money therapy and financial planning. Elizabeth works with individuals and couples at Bloom Retreat in Walnut Creek. Visit us at www.BloomRetreat.com or call us at (925) 939-6262 for more information. Bloom is located at 1444 South Main Street.