5 WAYS TO RAISE A MONEY-SAVVY CHILD
Your kids can’t get enough of the latest toys and gadgets, but are you and your spouse to blame for their materialistic desires?
Your children can’t get enough of the latest toys and gadgets, but are you and your spouse to blame for their materialistic desires? It may be time for a reality check this festive season, as SASHA GONZALES finds out.
When the latest iPad was released in Singapore, Patsy Koh’s nine-year-old daughter begged them for one.
“Her birthday and Christmas were coming up, so she wanted it as an early gift,” shares the 39-year-old private tuition teacher. “She already has an iPad from a couple of years back, so I denied her request.
“But she wouldn’t stop pleading with me, telling me that she needed to have it. After months of whining and begging, she nally got her wish. She wouldn’t let the matter go and I didn’t want to disappoint her.”
Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you, too, have kids who will stop at nothing to get the newest toys and gadgets but, for some parents, the demands just never end.
“My eight-year-old son always wants the latest game or toy that’s out there, while for my preteen daughter, it’s clothes,” says accounts manager Juliet Wong, 39.
“I spend a couple of hundred dollars a month on things they want, but then they get tired of these items after a few weeks and ask me to buy them more.”
Living in a material world
There’s no doubt that kids today are more materialistic than ever. According to nancial experts, that’s because they have more choices. “It really is about having too much to choose from at any one time,” says Keon Chee, who co-authored Bringing Up Money Smart Kids with Adam Khoo.
“It’s not only confusing for kids, but it’s also damaging because they tire easily of what they have as they keep on acquiring and expecting more and more new things.
“When I was growing up, we had chicken once a week and hardly any beef at all. Today, kids have chicken, beef, sh, lamb and prawns, all in the same meal and in unlimited amounts.”
Just take a look at the TV commercials and print advertisements around you – children are told to consume, consume, and consume some more. And it’s because of this that many simply do not understand and cannot appreciate the value of things.
“Our kids are growing up in a culture of materialism and wastage,” says Lee Cheon Loon, an associate certied coach with Executive Coach International. “With so much to choose from and so many easy ways to get what they want, it’s little wonder that they cannot see the value of what they own.”
Money lessons at home
If you and your spouse like to reward yourselves with items like designer bags and fancy gadgets, chances are your children will pick up the same habits.
“Kids are copycats,” says Keon. “They will behave and treat themselves much like how their parents behave and treat themselves.
“So if you are smart and condent about money, your children are likely to treat money with the care and respect it deserves.”
Kids become money-aware as soon as they know that money can be exchanged for things they want and need, says Adam. This usually starts at the age of six, when they begin primary school.
For the rst time in their lives, they have money of their own to spend in school. This is also when they start to learn how many cents make up a dollar, what a dollar can buy, and so on.
“Parents therefore need to be good role models,” he adds. “They need to learn about money themselves. They need to be saving, investing, and spending wisely. Their kids will then follow.”
Cheon Loon agrees. “Money remains very much a concept in a kid’s mind, until he realises how it can be incorporated into his reward system,” he explains.
“Some kids pick up on it earlier, while others may not realise the value of money till later. But they learn a lot just from observing how their parents relate to and speak about money.”
The guilt factor
How you manage your money is one thing, but do you also use money or material things as a substitute for the love and affection you think you’re not giving your kids enough of?
If the answer is yes, then you may unwittingly be raising materialistic children, says Alfred Chia, CEO of Singcapital.
“Many kids these days spend more time with their domestic helper than with their parents. That’s just the way it is, because most parents work long hours,” he points out.
“You might feel guilty for not spending enough time with your kids, so what do you do? You buy them toys or give them money to make up for it. Some parents even show their children they love them by giving them cash.
“This is a major cause of materialism among kids. Children these days just have way too much stuff, and too much money at their disposal.”
Compare and despair
It doesn’t help if you’re the sort who compares yourself to other people, in terms of what you own. Entrepreneur Maria Kong, 41, says she never knew how much her tendency to compare affected her 11-yearold son, until he asked her to upgrade his mobile phone and tablet computer.
“My husband and I are always seeing where and how we can do and have better, so we’re constantly upgrading – our apartment, our car, our wardrobes,” she shares.
“It’s just important for us to feel like we are keeping up with everybody else and not falling behind. When I asked my son why he wanted new gadgets when the ones he had were working perfectly ne, he said that he wanted what his friends had.”
Don’t fall into this trap, Alfred warns: “When children see adults making such comparisons, they mimic that behaviour and start to compare themselves to their peers as well. This urge to compete with, or be ‘one up’ over others can lead to materialistic behaviour.”
A life less fulfilling
Parents who have materialistic children have a much tougher time bringing them up, says Keon.
This is because such kids tend to be more selsh and self-centred. They feel entitled to receive things they haven’t earned and don’t deserve.
And they tend to grow up to become unhappy, unfullled adults because they have been used to obtaining temporary happiness through acquiring more and more material goods.
“Parents need to cut back on what they give their children or risk spoiling them,” says Adam.
“When these spoilt kids become teenagers, they are more prone to excessive selfabsorption, lack of self-control, anxiety, and depression.
If you give kids too much early on, they get to a point where they can’t be satised with anything.”