This article details four ‘scenarios’ which involve children and money. The advice offered is a mixture of opinions gathered from a psychologist, a mother of four, a former head teacher with over 30 years’ teaching experience and the authors of the book It Doesn’t Grow On Trees. There is, of course, no absolute right answer but some of the ideas may help deal with some of the concerns.
Read the scenarios out loud. Discuss them and then look at the advice, which is a summary of our experts’ views.
1. FINDERS KEEPERS
We were walking back from the beach with our two kids when my daughter, aged 13, found a little green purse with 45 pounds in it. I said she should take it to the nearest Lost Property Office but as it had no name or address in it, my husband said she should just keep it.
A simple piece of advice is to give it to a charity.
You’ve got to teach good habits so take it to the police station. Your daughter should leave her name and address to make sure it’s been claimed. If it’s not claimed within a certain time, she should receive the money anyway.
Someone has lost that money and they will hope that someone has handed it in. Put a little notice up near where the purse was found saying it has been taken to a police station or the Lost Property Office.
2. POCKET MONEY
My son receives ten dollars pocket money a month. He managed to save two months’ worth so had 20 dollars in his money box. He asked if he could buy some computer games online. He bought one which cost 2 dollars and I paid for it on my credit card. The website said the credit card would be valid for one hour after the first transaction. Soon after, my son decided that he wanted to spend a bit more of the money as he had so much left. He saw the ‘offer expires at midnight’ flashing and very soon, he had spent 26 dollars, exceeding his pocket money allowance.
The simple advice is to take the money owed from his next month’s pocket money. It’s important to go online and do the transaction together so he can see how it works and how easy it is to overspend. Show him that postage can also cost money if he buys something from an online store. It’s rarely the price you first see and offers almost never ‘expire at midnight’.
The best solution with any pocket money issue is always to be strict but fair. Everything is easier if you give your child actual cash and encourage them to put it in a place where they can see it and count it. Help them keep a record in a ‘money book’.
A large wallet, purse or box is better than a piggy bank. Piggy banks tend to ‘hide’ money. What’s in there, with good record keeping, therefore shouldn’t be a surprise. If you, as a parent, want to add money privately, you should write the total in the money book. Do not ‘sub’ or lend money too easily but if you do, make sure you also write details in your child’s money book.
3. TOYSHOP TANTRUM
My daughter, aged seven has always had a lot of toys. She loves dolls and although growing out of teddy bears, still loves buying expensive dolls and accessories. Unfortunately, she cannot go to a toyshop without having a tantrum if she doesn’t get a present. How can I re-condition her?
Don’t go to a toyshop. Rotate the toys she already has every week. Put half of them away in a cupboard. If children have too many toys around they get de-sensitised to them. Never give in to tantrums. It is extremely important for children to understand ‘no’ so don’t focus on the tantrum, distract them but don’t be afraid of saying no. You don’t have to apologise or explain.
She has her money that you give her. Hopefully, she buys what she can afford.
Buy online instead of taking her to a toyshop and explain to her why. Alternatively, take her to a toyshop as much as possible and say it’s just for a ‘look’ to see what she’d like. Take her as much as possible until she’s actually fed up with going to the toyshop!