Back in late 2011, I came across a study that identified children who were taught patience would up being more financially responsible when they got older. At the time of our original comparisons to the study, our boys were roughly 2.5 years (Bug) and 8 months (Landshark). Things have changed quite a bit since our original evaluation.
As time and our boys have matured, the older boy has learned to test us every way imaginable everyday. Landshark, on the other hand, is tremendously laid back, relaxed, and polite despite his older brothers attempts to dominate every situation.
According to Men’s Health magazine (January/February 2013), and an article Recover from Your Financial Hangover (Kris Frieswick),
Teach Kids Patience. Help them learn delayed gratification-which can be a valuable financial skill-with the “cookie game.” Give Junior one cookie. Tell him that if he waits 5 minutes to eat it, he will get a second cookie. If he doesn’t wait, he gets only the one. (No you can’t have the other cookie if he cracks.) In a similar test involving marshmallows decades ago, it was found that children who were able to defer gratification were more competent and scored better on their SATs when they grew older.
Here we are again with further validation that we need to promote patience in our children. So we decided to test this theory.
Last week I sat the boys and gave them each one cookie. I explained to them that they could eat the cookie now; however, if they waited one full minute, I would give them a second cookie. Miraculously, they both passed the minute test. Trying to duplicate the test immediately I do not think would have been as bountiful. Plus I think a minute was probably a good starting point, especially for Landshark, who is now two years old.
The following night I decided to test the boys going to the pool. They each had a dollar they wanted to bring for the vending machine. So in an attempt to try and discourage them from wasting money on overpriced junk food, I tried the patience test. I told both of the boys they could take their dollar to the pool and get something out of the vending machine; however, if they waited until we got home, they would get a second dollar and we would eat some of the dessert we already had waiting at home.
This time, Bug (4) was not going to be persuaded to save, and was adamant about taking his bill to the “food bank.” Landshark (2) on the other hand, had no problem offering up his dollar to save for later. I am not 100% sure Shark fully understands the concept of what happened, but it was good to see him deciding two was better than one.
We will continue to keep testing patience to our boys, and hopefully things continue to click that it is better to save some for tomorrow.
Additional Men’s Health Highlights
Some additional interesting highlights from the aforementioned article include the following.
Show Your Kids How it is Done. Instill basic financial skills by teaching them to count change. Set up a bank of coins and bills, and line up some of their toys. Buy a toy for $2.85. Pay for it with a twenty, and show them how to count up from $2.85 until they give you the right change. Math and financial knowledge imparted. You’re an awesome dad!
Show Your Kids How to Save Give your kids a food allowance the next time you take your family out to eat. Tell them they can spend it on whatever they want and that they’re allowed to keep whatever they don’t spend. “Some kids are natural spenders; some are natural savers.” “When the spenders see that the savers walked out of that restaurant with dollars in their hands, they will become savers very quickly.”
Overall, not to bad of recommendations. We continue the process of trying to instill patience into our boys, and at times, I have to admit that I might need to remind myself of the power of patience and not getting frustrated with the learning process. Many things we have been trying to teach our oldest child we have been working on for years, and they still have not quite completely sunk in. Yet our middle child tends to do really well with life lessons.
What has worked or not worked with teaching your kids the importance of patience and money management?
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Source: Men’s Health
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