When your budget won't let you give gifts to everyone in the world—which is always, by the way—who should you give...
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Kids are sponges; they absorb whatever they come in contact with. If you want your child to learn how to treat others with respect, you need to model that behavior for them. If you want Junior to value the importance of education, make sure you demonstrate just how important school really is. And if you want your kid to learn contentment, they need to see it in your life first.
Parents often forget that they are the biggest role model their kids will ever encounter. If you want your child to be content with what they have, you must lead by example. If you have stuffitis, your kid will have stuffitis. Contentment, simply put, is living within your means. It means you are thankful for what you have and don’t get upset thinking about the things you don’t have.
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Lead By Example
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting more money, a bigger house, better clothes, a newer car … the list goes on and on. When your child sees you wishing for all those things, they, in turn, will start wishing for more stuff. It’s just a habit of their surroundings! If you want to teach your kid about contentment, make sure you are modeling it in your own attitude, too. Contentment is easy to adopt, but it’s also easy to forget.
Everyone needs limits in their life. Creating priorities allows you to see what’s important and what isn’t. This also applies to when you make a budget. The important stuff, like the four walls, gets listed first and the lesser important things run down the list. Contentment takes a certain amount of control in order to be successful. You learn to be content with your money by controlling your shopping sprees and refusing to spend more than you make. Doing this will teach your child the importance of setting priorities and not wavering from them.
No Hissy Fits
If your child sees you throw an adult temper tantrum when you don’t get what you want, what’s stopping them from doing the same thing? Sure, maybe you’re not lying in the middle of the toy aisle screaming at the top of your lungs. But what about that time you were at the electronic store checking out the latest gadget before you realized you didn’t have the money in your budget? Or what about that designer purse you wanted last week? Did your kid see you get upset when you checked the blow envelope and realized you couldn’t afford it? If you don’t want your kid to throw a hissy fit when they don’t get something they want, then you shouldn’t either.
Talk It Through
So you’re upset and don’t feel the least bit content right now. Don’t just silently deal with it! Use your emotions as a learning experience for your kid! Tell your child how you really feel, let them know that even adults have weak moments that make them want to whine and cry. Just don’t give in to those moments! This is the perfect way to model contentment for your child. Be real and let your child see that even adults struggle with contentment. But also make sure you discuss with them why contentment is so important—take advantage of this teachable moment!
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Learn By Practicing
You probably had a coach or music teacher tell you that practice makes perfect. Well, they weren’t too far off. You may never obtain perfection in the area of contentment, but practicing it will definitely make you better! Instill a system in your life. Whenever you start to feel upset about not having the newest “it” item, find something to do that will make you grateful for what you have. And teach your kid that contentment takes practice. Every time Junior wants a toy, stick to your guns and reiterate the importance of saving up their money to purchase the toy. After a while, even the most difficult child will learn to be content with what they have.
Contentment may take some work, but it’s something that any parent can give to their child. Putting a little effort into making contentment a reality in your family will reap benefits that last a lifetime!
Check out Dave's resources to help you teach your child age-appropriate money lessons.