Parents and carers play a crucial role in preparing children to manage their money well as adults and there are direct links between what parents do and their children’s financial behaviour. Parents and carers are seen overwhelmingly by children as the main source of advice about money and they can role model financially capable behaviour, provide money advice, openly talk to children about money, and provide the opportunity for their children to experience money management.
To be able to manage money well as adults, children need to observe, talk about and experience using money on a regular basis. Our research shows that children who are exposed to conversations about money, are given money on a regular basis and are given responsibility for spending and saving tend to do better with money as adults.
Some parents are concerned about exposing their children to money at an early age, while some other parents find it difficult to have conversations about money with their children.
According to child psychologist Dr Elizabeth Kilbey:
“Having tough conversations with your children is part and parcel of being a parent and money can be a subject many find particularly hard to cover, especially if it is an area which they struggle with themselves. One of the key reasons for many parents is that they feel children shouldn’t be burdened with adult responsibilities, like worries about money. But it can in fact be very empowering to give your children skills and confidence with money, so that they don’t have to face money worries in the future.”
There are children who receive financial education in school as part of the national curriculum in England (secondary schools), Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (primary and secondary). This could be seen as sufficient for children’s needs, but from our research, four in ten children say they had not received any financial education in school.
Parents and carers provide the opportunity for children to observe, talk about and experience using money and the home environment provides the opportunity for children to practise handling and managing money on a regular basis and make mistakes with money at an early age when the consequences have much less impact. To enhance children’s learning, parents and carers can engage with schools to support their children’s experience of learning how to manage money.
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