Updated: Mar 18, 2019
I’m really enjoying the recent blogs and videos I’ve been doing directed at both young adults and the parents of younger children. I wholeheartedly believe that the sooner a person can learn valuable financial lessons, the more successful and fulfilling their lives will be as a whole. I’ve talked a lot about young adults learning to manage their finances and I’ve started to talk to parents about teaching their young kids values that can be translated to finances later in their lives. In this blog, I’d like to talk about those older kids who are still under your roof and who you can still have an influence on. Yep, I’m talking about teenagers! I know, I know, it’s tough enough to get your teenagers out of bed in the mornings and you may be wondering how you can approach something as in-depth as finances with them. But hey, you’ve gotta try! Even if they absorb only a tenth of what you’re trying to teach them, they’ll still be better off than the majority of teens out there. Here are some places to start.
Experiences & Skills
When your kids are teens, they have a limited opportunity to pack in as many life experiences as they can. This can include experiencing rejection from doing door-to-door fundraising for their cheerleading squad to learning how to pay a bill or manage a checking account. The more experiences your teen has, the more he or she will learn how to be flexible and adaptable. Flexibility is a key component of success and happiness, so now’s the time to help them learn it! Encourage them to start side business, get an after-school job, or volunteer at the local animal shelter. All experiences are beneficial—no matter how they turn out!
I’ve talked about the concept of peer pressure in other blogs and nowhere is peer pressure more influential than in your kids’ teen years! Your teen may be under pressure to hang out at the mall all day instead of getting job, he may be pressured to spend money on the coolest new shoes, or she may be pressured to look down on her classmates who work at the local fast food joints. Your teen may also be pressured to spend all their time with their ‘cliques’ or boyfriend/girlfriend and believe they don’t have any time to spend on a part-time job or side business. It’s important that you talk to your kids about how much time there is in a week and how valuable that extra time is that isn’t spent on schooling or sleeping. Instead of using it to watch TV or hang out with their friends, show them more valuable ways of spending these hours and how that will enhance their futures.
Fail at Home
There are a lot of parents out there who don’t want to see their kids fail. They protect them in all kinds of different ways such as doing their homework for them, not encouraging them to try new things, and shielding them from confrontations with others. However, this is the exact right time for your kids to fail. While they are still under your roof, you can guide them through failures and help them learn valuable lessons that will serve them later in life. Tell your kids it’s okay to make mistakes and to try new things. Make sure they know that your home is a safe place to stretch themselves and sometimes fall flat on their faces! When you help them see that many people don’t fail simply because they don’t push enough, you’ll help them develop a growth mindset and understand the value of making mistakes.
You know how hard it is to get your teenager to do…well, almost anything! Just try asking your teen to clean up his room and you’ll probably hear at least ten excuses about why they can’t do it right now. You’re going to encounter the same thing when you push them to open a checking account or start a part-time job. Now is the time to show them the value of just starting. If it helps, you can encourage them to do a countdown from 5 if they’re procrastinating. This is a useful technique for you, too! It’s easy to talk ourselves out of almost anything we don’t really want to do, but when you make a deal with yourself that you’ll start at the end of your countdown no matter what excuses remain, you can nip procrastination in the bud.
Teenagers are at a critical time in their lives when they can either broaden their horizons and minds or start developing bad habits and mindsets that will hurt them in the future. When you encourage them in the above ways, you can help them get on the right path to a successful financial adulthood.
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Have questions or comments about teaching your teens about money? Please leave them below!