Rohan couldn’t get to sleep in the house of the relative with whom he was spending a part of the school vacation. There was no air-conditioning. In all the nine years of his life, he hadn’t lived without an AC.
Anara couldn’t stomach the traditional Indian food served at the hotel where her family was put up for a cousin’s wedding. She lived on cookies, chips and ice-cream for the duration of the stay.
Sania was terrified by the noise and the crowds in the bus. It was the first time in her 11 years that she was travelling in one. She had so far only been in cars and planes.
Rohan, Anara and Sania are pampered children, exposed only to luxurious living. They don’t know what the comforts they are so used to cost, or where the money to pay for those comforts comes from. They haven’t seen their parents going through financial difficulties.
Are your children growing up like Rohan, Anara and Sania?
Remember, life is unpredictable. A luxurious lifestyle need not last for ever. It is our duty, as parents, to prepare our children to face hardships with courage and discipline.
Here are some ways by which children can be facilitated to understand the value of money:
1. Necessity vs want
Children don’t instinctively know the difference between needing and wanting.
They will ask for a toy that catches their eye, or a gadget that their friend has, irrespective of whether they need it or not. If the child’s every demand is met, he will never be able to separate need from want in his mind. From the beginning, be firm about getting your children only what is necessary for them, and they will be able to grasp the difference easily.
2. Celebrate differently
Are you throwing a lavish birthday party for your daughter to show off your own status? Understand that children are content to have their friends around them and eat their favourite foods. So, let your child pick out some good cause and donate the money you would have splurged on the party. It will demonstrate the importance of charity.
3. The best available option
Is your child in the habit of getting his own way in choice of food, clothes or entertainment? If so, you are not helping him to become well adjusted. Train him to make the most of whatever is given to him. Take him shopping. Help him compare prices of different brands of the same product. Then, encourage him to choose the best option within a given budget. This will teach him to spend optimally.
4. Peek into others’ lives
Take your child to visit an orphanage or old-age home. Let her get hands-on experience of how the less-fortunate live. Explore ways in which she can participate in the work of an NGO. All this will help her appreciate her privileged lifestyle, and not take it for granted.
5. The money cycle
As soon as your child is old enough to understand, explain how hard you work to earn the money to pay for the comfortable lifestyle you are providing him. Demonstrate how money that is not wasted on unnecessary things can be saved and used later for some important purpose.
Five general tips
- Expose your child to different lifestyles. Don’t let her travel by luxury cars always. Take her by taxi or bus once in a while.
- Don’t restrict your child’s diet to high-end products. Vary the menu by serving different qualities of rice, and include traditional snacks.
- Take your child to a typical village for a vacation, or rough it out in tents in a forest, as a change from holidaying in exotic foreign locations.
- Encourage your child to take care of her belongings, and don’t easily replace what she has either lost or damaged through carelessness. See if damaged things can be repaired. This will help her think before spending.
- Train him to turn off lights, fans and taps when not needed, and so conserve resources.
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