Just as parents need to expose children to vocational intelligence, the same need for exposure should apply to social consciousness and the value of money.
For example early childhood, ages 2 to 6, is a magical time and most children’s perception of money is often associated with play or fantasy. However, parents need to be sensitive to this period and not rob children of this magical connection by beginning an allowance too early. Most experts recommend ages 5 or 6 as a time when parents can begin to make children aware of the value of money by attaching an allowance to simple household chores such as setting the table, feeding pets etc. The amount of the allowance can vary but usually it should be $1.00 for every year of age.
At this stage most children can only entertain one idea at a time so parents need to keep the value of money, allowance and chores simple. Ask this child how much money he or she thinks mommy or daddy earns and the image could range from $10.00 to a zillion dollars. Therefore, their perception of the value of money is often based solely on what they understand or perceive which is often slightly right or left of reality.
One strategy is to attach household chores and allowance with a toy bank. When the child has saved up enough money he/she can have a special visit to a toy store for a special gift or even a gift for a family member. When parents place a face on the value of money they not only begin to raise the child’s social conscious but intelligence as well.
With the 7 to 11-year-old age group parents are dealing with a stage of development during which time children become collectors, consumers and entrepreneurs. Therefore, be prepared to spend time bartering on why their allowance should be raised. They can entertain two perspectives at a time of fair versus unfair. If an older sibling’s allowance is $15.00 a week the 7 to 11 year old will expect the same because it is only fair. For example, my friend‘s ten year old suddenly decided that it would be fair to be paid for every household activity he performed: 25 cents for turning on or shutting off a light, 10 cents for taking a dish to the table, and so forth!
Fortunately, at this age parents can begin to stimulate children’s social consciousness or the ability to move beyond fair versus unfair and expand their perception of the value of money by having them serve as a volunteer. For instance, the humane society is an excellent example for raising social consciousness because it places a face on the child’s potential donation and the value of money.
The 11 to 16 year old begins our most sophisticated stage of cognition, having now achieved the ability to entertain more than three operations at a time. At this stage the value of money and social responsibility takes on an entirely new meaning. Taking classes as a baby sitter and then working as a sitter raises the bar of social consciousness and value of money to greater heights. In my case I began working as a golf caddy which required not only knowledge and etiquette of golf, but also, after walking a long course for five hours and being paid $5.00, the value of money took on an entirely new meaning.
Moreover, with this stage come major expenses: cell phones, ipods, so it is critical that their perception of the value of money be also connected to budgeting. Just as the 7 to11 year old can set up a saving/checking account this age group should start thinking about setting up an educational fund, be it college or technical school. Again, such approaches induce long-range thinking and according to brain scientists stimulate the higher centers of the brain.
Exposing children to the value of money should not be looked at as an experience directed by the whim of the child. Rather when developmentally appropriate, it can also produce higher levels of social consciousness and even higher levels of learning and intelligence. *Dr. David Sortino is a psychologist and currently Director of Educational Strategies, a private consulting company catering to teachers, parents, students. For additional articles you can go to Dr. Sortino’s blog: davidsortino.com or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-829-8315,