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Teaching your child the value of money: 7 essential steps

Is your child never happy or satisfied? Does he always demand more and fail to appreciate the value of things? Ahram Online gets tips from an expert on how to avoid overindulging your kids.

Ingy Deif, Thursday 10 Jan 2013
Egyptian currency Reuters
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"Of all mistakes that can be committed by parents, giving their kids everything they ask for could be the most damaging," says Dr Heba Essawy, professor of psychiatry at Cairo's Ain Shams University."Kids generally are prone to overindulgence; they will always ask for the latest stationary, toys, clothes and gadgets, and it's up to parents to tackle this issue early on."

Dr Essawy highlights seven essential tips for parents:

1.       Fix the budget: it is important to sit with the child, discuss what he needs on a regular basis, and thereby agree on a fixed allowance to be given to him to fulfil his needs. This way he will learn to appreciate the value of money and not take things for granted. Also, it will develop his planning and saving skills.

2.       Let him be a part of the family's financial planning. We always tend to exclude our children from discussing the family budget, financial situation, and planning for the future, either because we think of them as too young to understand or to worry about such issues. Rather, make a habit of involving the kids in family discussions about needs and requirements, and let them participate by sharing ideas regarding priorities and expenditure alternatives. This will enhance their sense of responsibility.

3.       Let him see the underprivileged. Always keep your child grounded by exposing him to those who are financially less privileged than he is and involve him in the family's charitable activities by letting him do research and choose the charitable causes and you contribute to. This will make the child more appreciative of what he has and less demanding, as he will see first-hand that many of his desires can be translated into necessities for other more needy people.

4.       The art of stalling. The problem of wanting more all the time is usually associated with impulsiveness, so try to stall even if it is possible to respond or buy immediately. You should also condition your consent on a near-future accomplishment or tell him that you will get him what he wants when you have your salary, for example, or when the price comes down. This teaches him to be rational and to think before he acts or makes demands.

5.       Make a pact. It is very useful to set an agreement with your child that if he spends his allowance impulsively and unwisely, you will deduct from it. But, on the other hand, if he makes wise and sound choices, you will give him a bonus!

6.       Take him to the supermarket. Let him read aloud the prices of goods and compare commodities and their values. This will enhance his sense of appreciation and importance of sticking to budgets.

7.       Let him feel in control of his own budget. If a child learns to save money, either from his allowance or from gifts he receives on holidays or his birthday, this will not only help him understand the importance of money, but will also boost his self confidence and help him learn to take matters into his own hands.

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