All posts in Proactive Parenting Strategies

Show Me The Money!

The economy is bad. We all know it, and we are all worried about it. We are a nation of consumers, and the credit card companies and mortgage lenders have convinced us to feel good about spending money we don’t really have. And so here we are in 2009, in one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression.

What’s a parent to do about all of this? Start training your kids about money NOW.

Don’t wait! Your children are never too young to learn the value of money and, more importantly, to begin to develop a healthy relationship with money.

You cannot teach your children how to manage money by just talking to them about it, or by lecturing them about it, or by sharing your own wisdom with them (nice as that would be). Kids have to practice. Yes, practice how to handle money from the youngest of ages.

Think about it: wouldn’t you rather have your child, at age five, practice spending and saving money for the first time with the small amount of allowance they get, than have your child, at age 18, practice for the first time with his or her brand new credit card?

At Parenting On Track™, we believe that learning how to spend, save and give away money is a life skill that takes many years to acquire. You, as parents, have the opportunity to give your children the chance to practice this skill as soon as they are old enough not to put the money into their mouths. You do this by giving them an allowance at the weekly Family Meeting and, well, that’s it.

Once you have given your children their allowance, you no longer have any say over what they do with it. Take a deep breath; there’s more. On the other hand, you aren’t required to buy anything for them beyond their basic needs. So, this means that

  • When they ask, in the grocery store, for that piece of candy, you get to say, YES. “Did you bring your money?”
  • And when they want that designer jacket that all their friends have, you say, YES. “Do you have enough money saved to buy it?”
  • And finally, when they ask for their own cell phone, you can say, YES. “Will your allowance and part-time job cover the monthly bill?”

The best way to teach your children the value of money is to allow them to learn it for themselves. For more information on allowance, money management and helping your children create a healthy relationship with money, check out the MP3 on Money Management on our website. It’s never too early or too late to invest in promoting a healthy relationship between your children and money.

Child-Driven Play is Serious Stuff

Child-Driven Play is Serious StuffA lot of the parents I meet could be called “nervous” parents. They don’t want to see their children get hurt – but then, who does? They are the parents who are quick to say, “watch out for the …; please don’t, that’s dangerous; you might get hurt if you …” If you are one of these parents and you’re beginning to wonder if all this worrying is doing more harm than good, read on.

The one note of caution that I have is, don’t overdo it. While it is a parent’s natural tendency to be concerned about their children, there comes a time when letting go and allowing them to experience life on their own terms is critical. Yes – critical. If you don’t allow your children to begin making their own decisions on which risks they are willing to take, you are depriving them of one of the best experiences life has to offer – natural consequences.

Many parents are making this same mistake – they hover over their children, feeling like they need to impart their wisdom about what risks to take safely or they need to help their children learn how to play the “right” way. While it is developmentally helpful for you to play with your baby and toddler, once your child is three or four you should just leave them alone. Experts on the role of play in a child’s development say that:

“Child-driven play – not adult play … has the greatest benefits to children because it contributes to ‘cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being’.”
(See Suttie article below)

Furthermore, child-driven play allows your children to learn the natural consequences for the risks they take and the choices they make.

Stepping back and allowing your child to experience the natural consequences of their actions can be difficult, and that is why Parenting On Track has an audio on Natural Consequences available for download on our website. This information packed audio will give you further insight into why natural consequences are important and how best to use them with your children.

Letting go and allowing your children to play uninstructed by you (in a reasonably safe environment, of course… no one’s advocating sending them off to play in quicksand or out in the middle of the highway) may mean a few more bumps and bruises, so you might want to buy some extra band-aids. But think about the freedom your children will get to experience, and the self-reliance and self-expression they will develop because of that freedom.

For more information on child-directed play and why it’s so important read:

“Confessions of an Anxious Parent” by Jill Sutie

New York Times Magazine “Taking Play Seriously” By Robin Marantz Henig Published: February 17, 2008

Its Your Life – What Do You Choose?

Its Your LifeA Short Guide To A Happy Life

By Anna Quindlen

While most authors address their audience as the expert on a subject, in A Short Guide to a Happy Life Anna Quindlen declares that her ordinary background taught her extraordinary lessons.

Inspired by the loss of her forty year old mother, when Quindlen was nineteen, she reveals how this pivotal moment altered her perspective on life. Becoming aware of her own mortality, Quildlen states, “As the dividing line between seeing the world in black and white, and in technicolor. The lights came on, for the darkest possible reason.”

This short, fun read should fit right in during a month when the days are short and the to-do list seems long. After reading A Short Guide to a Happy Life you may find yourself:

  • Walking outside to listen to the snow fall
  • Taking an extra moment to watch the waves roll in
  • Looking forward to long trips in the car, as an interesting way to connect with your kids.

A Short Guide to a Happy Life reads like salty chips and chocolaty sweets wrapped into one!

About the Author:

Anna Quindlen is the author of three bestselling novels; Object Lessons, One True Thing, and Black and Blue. Her New York Times column Public and Private won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and a selection of those columns was published as Thinking Out Loud. She is also the author of a collection of her Life in the 30’s columns, How Reading Changed My Life, and two children’s books, The Tree That Came to Stay and Happily Ever After. She is currently a bi weekly columnist for Newsweek and resides with her husband and children in New York City.

Only Fifteen Minutes for Summer Success

Only Fifteen Minutes for Summer SuccessAre you excited by the possibilities of summer fun and the chance to sleep in?

Eager to reconnect with the kids or finish a long-forgotten project?

Looking forward to short day trips or an extended family vacation?

Or are you nervous about child care or too much downtime for your teenagers?

Consider what your summer might look like if you created a plan – a plan that takes everyone in the family into account, a plan that’s created during a family meeting where everyone, especially your kids, are encouraged to participate in its design.

Family meetings are the perfect time to prepare for summer success. If you’ve taken one of my classes, you already know the importance of family meetings. If you have them every week, you are probably already experiencing the benefits.

The purpose of family meetings is to appreciate each other, delegate household responsibilities, solve problems, and distribute money. And at this time of year, they’re a great tool to set the stage and plan for summer success.