by: Sam X Renick, Award Winning Author, Financial Educator, and Creator of Sammy Rabbit
Can babies really learn in utero? It is a fair question and a fascinating article to read. Parents, this may not surprise you, a variety of sources agree learning begins while babies are in the bun so to speak. Penn State assistant professor of psychology, Dr. Rick Gilmore responds to the question in the above article with an emphatic – absolutely!
In turns out, youngsters are astonishingly adept at acquiring knowledge. Time chronicled this fact in its column – Infants understand more than you think, study shows.
This research may be music to mommy and daddy’s ears, except, well when it comes to one of life’s vital topics: money.
THE ISSUE AND CHALLENGE
Parents, this may surprise you, did you know research from Cambridge University found adult money habits are formed by age seven? This coincides with the studies cited above, indeed, little kids are excellent learners. So, what’s the issue? The issue is we do not want kids learning everything, especially behaviors we may not be good at, like managing money. Unfortunately, that is not one of kids’ criteria for learning. They just soak it all in. They absorb everything. That would include all sorts of information, knowledge, attitudes, feelings and beliefs on personal finance, many parents are not even aware they are teaching their children. Uh – oh!
You might be naively thinking that your child’s okay because you don’t talk about money at your house. You may want to think again. Parents talk to and teach kids about money all the time. It is unavoidable. True, it is easy to miss. Why? Because the communications do not need to mention the word money. Typically, the communications are disguised. They are expressed as hopes, dreams, adventures, attitudes and feelings on things like becoming princes or princesses, taking trips to Disneyland, celebrating first birthdays, living in homes with white picket fences, and on and on.
What further exacerbates the problem, is it turns out lots of parents do not either like to consciously talk to kids about money and/or find it difficult to do. This reality seems to translate into a whole host of problems that sabotage kids and their futures, like bad debt for example.
WHAT TO DO – 6 TIPS
Do nothing or do something. If you choose not to take conscious control of your kids financial education during this crucial timeframe while their money mindsets and habits are being shaped, understand this, someone else gladly will. Advertisers to name one.
On the other hand, if you want to do something, here are six strategies to consider.
Get up to speed yourself. Plenty of resources on personal finance are available, whether it is in books, magazines, or videos online. The basics are easy to master.
Get on the same page with your partner. If you can communicate the same money philosophies to your kids, naturally, you will be more effective.
Write down your financial values on paper. Reduce your thinking to short and simple phrases that are easy to share and easy for your kids to remember and repeat. Some of Sammy Rabbit and my favorite slogans are: “Saving is a great habit.” “Earning money is fun to do.” “You can have everything you want if you are willing to work for it.”
Do your best to talk your talk and walk your talk. In other words, speak and live your message. Kids love to imitate their parents. It is one of the primary ways they learn.
Read kids storybooks, have them listen to music and do activities that share your financial values. Be sure to check out Sammy Rabbit. Sammy and I thrive on making easy and fun to learn about finance.
Have your kids play and act out scenarios that involve money. Two obvious scenarios to play and perfect are saving and store. I would prioritize saving. Learning to save money is one of the most underrated skills a child can learn. It teaches a child to be prepared, delay gratification, be disciplined, set goals, plan and prioritize. Those skills are transferrable and can be leveraged to have success in all aspects of life. Playing store, if done properly, can teach a child to be a savvy consumer. That is also an invaluable skill, particularly in an environment that is consumption crazy!
Do everything you are able to in order to make the process fun and joy-filled. Encourage and educate your children to have a positive relationship with money – one of life’s most frequently used and mismanaged tools.
Download Sammy Rabbit activities and music for FREE at the Dream Big Club.
Visit Sammy Rabbit to check out the storybook Sammy’s Big Dream which was just chronicled in Financial Advisors Magazine: Children Form Financial Behaviors by 7
ABOUT SAM X RENICK
Sam X Renick is the creator and driving force behind Sammy Rabbit and the Dream Big Club. Sam and Sammy are dedicated to empowering kids’ dreams and improving their financial literacy through the development of great habits and strategic life skills. Sam has read and sung off key with over a quarter million children around the world, encouraging them to get in the habits of saving money and reading! He has won numerous honors throughout his career including the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education's Lifetime Achievement Award!