Raising kids in the Gulf can sometimes prove to be tricky, especially when it comes to teaching them the value of money.
In a land where most households have live-in help, and kids’ school, social and activity calendars rivals that of any high-ranking executive, there is not much in the way of chores for kids. You might find that your kids are growing up without learning the true value of money. Add to that this generation’s desire for instant gratification, and living in a society where different cultures live with different values and you have a mountain of a challenge!
It all starts with you as a parent. Children tend to get their ideas and attitude towards money from their parents. From a young age, kids sit in the supermarket trolley watching in fascination as the trolley gets piled up high with lots of goodies, that then go on the conveyor belt to be beeped through and packed neatly into bags. A plastic card exchanges hands, some numbers are punched in and presto! A fridge full of food at home. This, coupled with the increasingly commercial society we live in, can make it quite difficult for parents to instil appreciation of money.
To overcome that, teaching values from an early age is key. The value of money can be taught from as early an age as four years old, when your child wants to get something from the toy shop. Somehow, they know that they can’t just grab stuff off the shelf and walk out with it – well one hopes! Take advantage of that and show them how you buy the item with money, and explain that dad and mum work hard to get money to buy stuff – and with that, the seed is sown.
As they get older, you can explain to them what money is exactly and how people earn it, and suggest to them that perhaps they would like to earn money to buy whatever they want with it; to carry through with that, you can assign the little kids various tasks at home, and for the older kids perhaps babysitting duties! A trip to the workplace works wonders to tie everything together for them and get a little work ethos going as well!
In the MENA region during Eid, it is a tradition to give children money as opposed to gifts; it is the perfect time to talk to them about saving money and not spending it right away. Some parents even open a good old fashioned bank book and keep the money for their kids, which they then need to sign for if they want to withdraw anything!
Remember, you are their best example! Showing them how to compare prices, talking to them about wasteful and unnecessary purchases and not getting them everything they want whenever they want, will build a good sense of the value of money.