How to Have Happy Kids

11/07/2016 14:38 | Updated 11 July 2016

I saw an article this week on netsmum about the importance of teaching children the value of money. At the beginning of the article a child is quoted

Every week I get one dollar for allowance. Then I get to choose the section where I put my dollar.
There are four sections: spend, save, donate and invest. If I put a dollar in the 'invest section,' my parents give me two extra pennies at the end of every month.

Under the article were a host of comments saying what a wonderful idea it was. I didn't agree and said this.

oh just let them be kids! Life should be as stress free as possible in childhood. I'd worry that the kids would feel shamed for not making the 'right' decision. Go and buy a comic.

Look, I'm no expert on raising kids. I'm a parent, I've read a few books and articles and far too many pieces of 'advice' on social media. Don't think I've missed the irony of another piece of 'advice' here! But it seems to me that we're putting far too much pressure on kids to be learning and 'improving' themselves from a very young age. What's wrong with letting them be kids and accepting them for who they are? When my son was 5, a teacher told me he didn't recognise all the different coins. I was rather pleased whereas the teacher thought I'd been a bit slack. In my view his need for financial acumen at 5 was not a top priority. He was rather busy collecting snails, sticks and stones.

Of course children need to learn the value of money but surely not from a really young age. The lessons of saving and investing are commendable but I'd argue that they can wait. It's all a bit too serious. We live all our adult lives with responsibilities and pressure and I want my children to have as much time as they can in a stress free state.


How to Have Happy Kids

  1. Accept them for who they are, let them know that being them is enough. They don't need to improve or change, let them know they're just great as they are.
  2. Take decisions for them. Not all decisions but the important ones. More than once I've been part of a conversation where someone has mentioned that the school isn't ideal for their child but it's the one the child wanted. No no no! Children simply can't make such big choices, it's too much responsibility and they aren't equipped to way up all the important factors in key decisions.
  3. Be clear about your expectations. Children need to know what the rules are in their lives, if they don't it's really confusing for them and confusion causes upset.
  4. Be Kind. My son went to a Quaker school. It was relentless in it's expectations and discipline but it was all done with kindness. Kindness works.
  5. Listen to them. When your child is clearly upset and you can't understand why, it's up to you to comfort and identify the problem. Sometimes they don't know and that's fine too, feelings are real and should be acknowledged.
  6. Let them be bored. You're on a hiding to nothing if your children learn that adults provide all entertainment. How are they going to learn the very important task of being able to entertain themselves if it's always done for them?
  7. Get them outside. Take the kids to a park, beach or woods, anywhere but get them outside. You might need to prompt them, suggest building a den etc. but they'll soon get going and you can settle down with a book if you're lucky.
  8. Spend time with them. Have a family disco, play a game or do some painting, whatever works for your family. Children want your time more than they want things.
  9. Love them. Let them know how special they are, make their favourite supper, sing them a song and cuddle the life out of them.

Like all parents I try my best to do what I think is right. No doubt I mess up at times, I might be raising financially illiterate kids (the signs are otherwise; my son is a keen negotiator when buying records). My main motivation is to try and make my kids childhood as stressfree as I possible. I'd be interested to know what approach you take.

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