That time and money can only be used once is a key thing for me in my own life. When I see my children, or me, wasting either I am prone to get over upset by it. I have learned to moderate my tendencies by not over-planning days and letting them be. Also making mistakes with their own money to learn. We must remember that what we might see as a waste of time as a 40-year-old might not be but might be a result of your parental anxiety. Programming on a computer could be a future career, texting friends, or paying to go to the cinema could be building lifelong friendships that will support them. It is about moderation as well as saying no. Like with most things in parenting it is a conversation. Below we give advice for teaching your child the value of time and money.
For a fulfilling life for any of us, we must understand the critical concept that the two most important resources we have, time and money, can only be used once. If we waste either, it limits us on what else we can do. If we spend time on meaningless time-wasting activities, we have less time for happiness. If we squander our money, we then won’t have the opportunity to spend it on meaningful life experiences, or worse essentials. Delayed gratification is one of the most important things that children don’t naturally understand for obvious reasons. When we talk to our children it is good to explain why we are ‘nagging’ them. Not to cause upset but rather to enjoy their lives long-term.
How to Successfully Teach Children to Manage Time
Follow these steps to help your children learn time management skills for children quickly and efficiently:
- Start early. As your child is old enough to do things independently, you can teach them essential time management skills. For instance, you can teach your preschooler that they are expected to pick up their toys within a reasonable duration of time. And, for older children, you can guide them through more definite routines and plans for time management. We have a list of age-appropriate chores here that you might find useful. One advantage of doing chores is the concept that time can only be used once and not everything is pleasurable. By getting into the habit of doing chores efficiently they will learn that it gives them more free time.
- Teach your children the concept and importance of time. To teach time management to children, you need to teach them how to tell the time and measure time. From here, they can judge how long things take. They, and you, will get frustrated with how long it takes them to pack a bag at first. Reassure them it will be quicker. The mundane things can not be put off but can always be made more efficient.
- Let them be in control of their free time so they can have a concept of planning. Remember that it’s a child you’re teaching how to manage time. I make a list of what I have to do each day and I might not always write it down. On the list, I include things like enjoyment. On holiday days I ask my children to do something similar. “Yes, there are two hours of x-box time on there. But what about the other 12 hours? How do you want to fill them? I also expect you to mow the lawn. How long will that take? When would be a good time for all of us to go for that family bike ride” By having ownership they will have buy-in. They will learn to be realistic in their expectations of the time it takes to do things. They will also see how much time they have for themselves so will be open to doing more wholesome activities.
- Create a routine. Since your children mostly have to do the same activities repeatedly at the exact time of the day, it is helpful for you to create a day-to-day routine for them. As above this will show that doing the things you have to do first will give you more free time. The Child Development Institute explains that children thrive on rituals and practices. For example, a clear morning routine means that they can see the benefit of organization and then try and apply it to their own days.
- Help your child prioritize activities. As they move to late primary school, children can learn to prioritize. Children may not know what activities are more important than others without being taught. As always when teaching children to set priorities, start with baby steps. It means that you help them prioritize their daily, weekly, and monthly activities. It links to the difference between instant gratification and delayed gratification.
- Schedule for free time. In an interview with Cleveland Clinics, Dr. Lonzer (a pediatrician) stresses the importance of downtime for children and says that overscheduling your child can weigh them down and even cause emotional problems in the future. To be able to manage their own time they have to have some free time to manage!
- Relax. Let your child make mistakes. It can be easy to become over-passionate or a drill instructor. You genuinely want your child to do what is best. However, it can be exhausting for children always to try to do everything right, both at home and at school. You might need to step in occasionally to offer support or let things slide.
How To Teach Your Child To Be Money-Smart
Going in hand with managing their time, there is the other limited resource of money. Similar to the above it is good to take this in small steps. We have a whole section about teaching children the value and use of money but some key parts are below.
- Teach them the basic concept of money management. Talk to your children about the fundamentals of the idea of money. You should not be scared to talk to children about money and the decisions that you have to make: earning, credit cards, checks, banks, the importance of making sound financial decisions, etc.
- Give them an allowance. Giving your children an allowance is a way of letting them have real-life experience with money. Remember, they can’t put the skills you’re teaching them to use if they don’t have any money to learn.
- Let them make some buying decisions. Allow them to make financial decisions and be responsible for them. This act should help them make mistakes and learn from them. Likewise, they learn from making good decisions and are encouraged to keep up with them. For example, ‘we have $10 today, what are we going to do?’
- Take them grocery shopping with you. When the children are at the shop as you pick grocery items, they can learn how prices differ among brands, even for the same products. Also, they will understand why it is essential to stick to a buying budget.
- Encourage your child to save. Encourage your children to put money aside to accumulate for later use. For instance, instead of buying them an item, they can’t immediately afford, encourage them to save up for it. You can even help older children get into programs to help them save for college.
Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Child the Value of Time and Money
Time and money management skills are essential for children to learn as they will make them capable of achieving their goals now and in the future as adults. Remember, teaching children to manage time and money is a gradual process, so don’t nag your children if they are not getting it as fast as you would like.
Be patient, enjoy the process, and celebrate little wins.