Saturday, April 12, 2008

Teaching value of money to kids

I have been thinking about this topic since yesterday's incident with Betu.

When I reached Betu's daycare to pick him up, he was throwing a tantrum to go a fellow daycare friend who lived close by. Since her mom and me are on good terms and since it was weekend I thought we can go. I agreed but told him if he is going to throw such tantrums again, I will not listen to him. He agreed and apologised.

His friend and him both had a blast playing with a huge train set that was gifted to his friend by a relative staying in Tokyo. It was spread on the size of about 6' x 9' so you can imagine how huge it was.

After 30 mins I asked him to go home. Again tantrums started. Once we were seated in the car, and were on the way I told him I am not going to talk to him till he behaves. He kept at it and saying "Aap gande ho. Mujhe aapse baat nahi karni" and I replied to him "fine!". After 5 mins he was again apologetic saying sorry and "main aapka chhonu hoon. Aap mujhse please baat karo na". I told him we will talk when we are at home. He kept sobbing as if hurt and muttering that I am not going to talk to him or love him now.

So I gave him a hug when we stopped at a traffic light and asked him why does he do that when he knows its not good. This was again answered with usual well rehearsed dialogue "sorry! Main dubara nahi karunga" after less than a minute.

A while later he asks me to get him a similar train as Prithvi, his friend, has. I said fine but only if he behaves. He said yes he will and asked me if we will go market now. When I said no we will go when Papa is back tomorrow, he would not hear anything about it. So I told him I don't have money. The moment I said that I realised that was a wrong choice of words. I should have said something else. But when he asked me that let's go and take money from Prithvi I was taken aback and got a little upset. I know I should'nt have. So in anger I asked him if he wants to be like those beggar children that he sees on the roads. Again I felt wrong choice of words and it kept gnawing me at the back of the mind. I tried to explain him that we both work to get money to buy clothes and toys for him as well as food. So he should never ask anybody for money. Then I again told him that we will go when his Papa is back. He went quiet. All settled I thought.

On way to home, I stopped at the local grocer to get milk. To my utter shock he asks me that just now you told me you don't have money then how are you going to buy milk? I told him I have just little money to buy milk and other stuff. Can you even think of what he would have said then? I am sure NOT! I was at such a loss of words when he said "mujhe aapka wallet dikhayo. Main dekhna chahta hoon ki aapke paas kitne paise hain".

I just said no to him but couldn't think of an explanation as to why I am not allowing it.

Edited to add: I forgot to add that once during all this conversation he mentioned to me "Jo paise Nanu mujhe dete hain woh aapke paas hai na. Unse khareed lo". And its true. Betu's Nany give him money everytime we go and meet him. And Anirudh gives them to me to keep in my purse. Can you imagine all this coming out of the mouth of a 4 year old??

Sent on my BlackBerry® from Hutch


  1. i agree to the fact the children should know the value of parents did do that to an extend and both they and i am glad now that they did...i see them go all happy and thankful wen they see other kids we know waste so much money and throw tantrums and dont know the value of money at all...

  2. I think, it is OK sometimes not to explain everything, unless it is important to us or the child wants to know why. It surely is not easy. I'm also at a loss for words a number of times. :)
    And raising a child can make you be confronted with your own flaws and prejudices and wrong attitudes, which you were usually not aware of. So, in a way it is such a good way becoming a better person. It is not an easy job, for sure. But we do it not only for us but also for our children. So, it is worth all the effort.
    Value of money a child has to learn for sure. Your post has given me an idea. Don't you think it is time for him to start getting pocket money, so that he can buy his own chocolate next time. Once a month or twice or even once weekly. How much? I would say small amounts, but enough that he can buy a small chocolate by the end of the month. So, next time he asks you to buy him a chocolate you can tell him he has the money.
    And of course that way he wil also get to learn the diffrence between one and five rupees.
    I might even try this with Rishab, once his stock of chocolates, which he has since his birthday is over. I guess that will take at least half a year. :D

  3. hmmm....I guess there is nothing to worry about, he is just one inquisitive kid, which is a very good thing. So he is always open for discussions, you can always talk out things.

    Well, agreed at that moment your choice of words were little off the mark, but again sometimes such slip ups again no worries, now you know next time you'll be more careful.

    He is a fantastic kid, who listens, observes, pays attention to detail....thats an awesome quality.

    Chill maadi :-)
    (I dunno what that means but here my kannada/telugu friends use this word a lot :-) )

  4. oooh i am scared of this parenting job. sounds terribly demanding. you have a human mind to mould and it's at your disposal how you do it. very risky. you're doing a great job at it!! :)))

    i am back. :( it's raining in UK. wait, why isn't that a surprize? hehhe

    be in touch.

    stone: 'maadi = karo', says telugu husband :p

  5. Happened to me too, when I once said that I don't have money, my daughter just asked me to stop at an ATM machine and withdraw the money for what she wanted then !

    I didn't really expect what he said about - apna wallet dikhao, but its ok, he is an intelligent boy and was just following the reasoning even when after you said you don't have money and went to buy milk.

    Its ok for them to ask questions, I agree that it irritates us as we didn't dare to ask our parents to show their wallets to us, but try to answer them as you would answer any other questions - honestly and appropriate to their age. We all use words which we later think that we shouldn't have, but we are humans too and I am sure you will handle it in a better way next time :-)

    But, I personally think he is too young for having his own pocket money. What I did at that age was started giving the 2Bs +ve and -ve points to encourage positive behaviour and once they had accumulated certain amount of points they could choose what special toy, gadget they wanted. THis is just for this age so that they understand the difference between the appropriate and non appropriate behaviour once you have explained the difference and still learn value of money. This way they will also know that they are too little to spend money on their own but the parents will spend it for them for the toy they want when they meet the target. Yo ucan even tell them that after certain age they will be getting their own pocket money too - that way he will have something to look forward to when he will be able to decide how to spend a certain amount of money !

    This is just my view and what I have followed and it worked :-)

  6. Frankly I am not surprised. Knowing Anirudh , I know he is quite an intelligent and aware kid. I can expect him to understand these things. Your choiceof words went wrong , otherwise I am sure , you can explain him why he should not ask money from others.

    And yes,about pocket money ,
    I believe in what my parents did. All the money that we used to get from my relatives plus papa mummy (we got pocket money too late and it was never termed as pocket money)used to be deposited in a piggy bank and later a kiddy kind of purse.

    The purse used to safely kept in Mumma's almira(else it can be lost..right). We were allowed to count whenever we wanted.And we were told that we can buy a cassette /dress/game when the count is X. It was exciting to buy a dress from your money at that age. (ofcourse they would award an additional 50 or so , if they know that I want something desperately.

    When we were old enough , my parents used to give me enough money for my needs, and the purse was my savings account for the ones that relatives gave me or I got explicitely for my purse from mummy papa.

    They also used to appreciate when we could collect too much without spending.

  7. came along this slightly related post -- (thanks to you, i have begun doing my homework on parenting already)

  8. @all: Thanks for all your views and opinions!

    Manasi: That was a wonderful link! Keep them coming for us lesser mortals :D

  9. Today's children are much smarter than their parents' generation and want a satisfactory explanation for everything.
    I think he became stubborn because he wanted that very badly - else I can see he is sucha sweet child - "aapka chonu".
    Even if you had shown him your purse he might not have known how much you have because they still don't know the value of each currency.
    It is probably one of those phases - handle it with patience and yes, teach him the value of money so he knows that the toys you buy hom are much more expensive than what he could buy in one go with the money he gets from nani.
    And don't blame yourself too much - once in a way it is ok to lose patience.