Parenting Tips: Teaching Young Children About Money

By Greg Baer M.D.

November 30, 2023

A father wrote me and said, “I want to tell you an exciting story about our daughter, age six."

How fun. It's fun for me to hear about what kids are learning.

The father continues, “On Saturday, we walked to the convenience store for snacks, and I gave each one of the kids enough money for a lollipop on the way.

"Our daughter said that she wanted an ice cream instead.

I told her that an ice cream would cost as much as two lollipops, so she would have to:

  1. get a lollipop this time or
  2. have no treat and get an ice cream next time. 

She'd have to choose.”

Parenting Guide: Don't Fear Their Disapproval

Well, good for you, Dad. Hooray for a courageous parent.

Right here is where we fail. As parents, we are afraid of their disapproval. We were afraid of a four year old or a six year old kid looking at us with disapproval.

Are you? So don't you feel bad if suddenly you're confused about how to respond to your children when they do or say something.

Now back to the story. He said, “She actually chose to get the ice cream that she would have to save for next time and no lollipop this time.

Once we were at the store and the daughter saw her brother picking out his lollipop, she got a mopey look on her face because she wanted to save for the ice cream. While we were leaving the shop, she stood by the entrance with the forlorn look of a starving man, hoping that you'll give him a piece of bread.”

And this is what terrorizes us. As parents, we can't have that mopey look on our children's faces because we'd be responsible for causing them pain. We'd be monsters. Wrong. This dad understood that.

He continued with his text. “I said to her, Time to go. In addition to the mopey look, she did the whiny shoulder shake, so she perfected the whole whiny deal. I said to her, You're whining. You have your money. You can go in and get a lollipop. Right now, nobody's stopping you. Or you can save it for an ice cream later. What do you want to do?”

Parenting Guide: Give Them Choices

How many parents do this? Brilliant. Not many. As opposed to going. No, no or yes, yes to everything they say. You give them choices. What a concept.

Dad says, “She actually turned back to take a final long look at the lollipops, like she'd never see them again. And she gave a big sigh and said ice cream, later.”  

Oh, that's brilliant.

In this short interaction this dad taught her

  1. delayed gratification.
  2. responsibility.
  3. that he would NOT rescue her and get her an ice cream because of the mopey face.
  4. that she always choice. 
  5. that victimhood doesn’t work.

There is so much to teach our children with every single word we speak to them, every single facial expression. And it's all encapsulated in this father's brief series of texts.

It's always about the parents, in your family, in the world, and what will lead you there. Unconditional love does. Real Love®.

Parenting is a unique job. It requires unique skills. 

There are two free ways to get the support you'll need while learning these new skills.

First, our YouTube channel where you'll see more practical applications through the videos of the principles that I'm talking about. Sometimes you'll see it happen live.

Second, go to the Learning Center on often and access a library of resources that will resolve your worries so you can become a confident, creative and effective parent.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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