In the face of the economic difficulties we are currently facing, some parents think they are doing the right thing and protecting their offspring from the future financial disappointments that await them, while remaining silent on the subject.
A big mistake, according to Béatrice Copper Royer, a clinical psychologist, a childhood and adolescent specialist who advocates better learning about money in elementary school.
What does specific financial education consist of?
Beatrice Copper Royer It is about teaching children the concept of money and showing them that it is a reality like any other that cannot be ignored. From a certain age, they must understand that “we do not live from love and fresh water”, that our way of life costs something, and every family has its own budget to handle it.
Why is it so important to educate them on this topic?
This upbringing is the responsibility of parents. Not only speech but also example is important. Many adults manage their budgets poorly, with a quarter of the population exhausted each month. This pushes some people to take advantage of consumer credit and many end up with huge debts. Being able to manage your budget from an early age guarantees a long-term life balance.
Is it even more important after surviving a pandemic?
Of course. It is important to show that no one is immune to financial worries and that the family can go through difficult times. It is very commendable that you do not want to burden the children with these problems, but you should not hide everything. Especially because parents whose jobs have been hit by the health crisis feel worried and their children are far from ignoring them. But be careful not to insist on the truth. This can be uncertain, especially for the little ones. I met a patient in the middle of a divorce who said to her 9-year-old daughter, “I hope we don’t sleep under the bridges.” The other took metaphor as a face value and suffered from it. For the little ones, we reassure them by having what we need for our needs and choosing the surplus.
Being able to manage your budget from an early age guarantees a long-term life balance
COPPER ROYER BEACH, PSYCHOLOGIST
From what age should they “educate”?
After graduating from elementary school, about 10-11 years. Under this age, the concept of money is still too abstract. The crumbs are not independent enough, they are not yet allowed to go home or shop alone. When children are older, pocket money is a great way to strengthen them. They are pleased that they can afford something, but also the limits associated with money, which adults already know well: waiting and frustration from buying something that exceeds the budget. Through this management, we also see how characters are formed independently of their parents. There are prodigals and piles, grasshoppers that never have enough and ants who plan everything.
How should this pocket be framed?
Parents will agree on an amount adapted to age and needs. In the case of young people, this money is distributed weekly and when they grow up, it is distributed on a monthly basis. The children do what they want with their pocket. On the contrary, if the savings disappear quickly, it is a good lesson for the child. This way, when you leave it, he will realize that the basket is drilled. And most importantly, parents must not crack and fill in the gaps. For teenagers, this monthly budget is a step in adulthood because it is similar to a salary. If a young person is a big spending person, parents can try to argue with him and explain that waiting for a nice gift is more satisfying than compulsive spending on products with little interest. And we can make them more responsible by giving them the money they need to cover transport and lunch.
Through money management, we see how characters are formed independently of parents
What if you are limited by your finances and would like to give more?
We discuss it with children when they hear it, around 10-11 years old. We explain to them that so far we are saving our money on essentials, rent, food, clothes. For example, if a child persists and asks for a console, we may offer to wait for a birthday refund from their grandparents, godmother, or godfather. We must not close the prospects and keep some hope at the end.
How to explain that the topic of money is sometimes such a taboo in the family?
It’s very cultural. We don’t have the American relaxation with the money. This restraint is certainly related to our Judeo-Christian upbringing, which considered the subject to be dirty and distant from grandeur. From the point of view of history, people from the nobility preferred to emphasize the moral strengths of courage rather than monetary benefits. All this is very paradoxical today, as we live in a consumer society and children are important players.
It is not the role of parents to control spending. The children do what they want with their pocket
Is opening a bank account a solution to control and learning to manage your expenses?
Yes. When it comes to ordering online, we are dealing with a very resourceful and autonomous generation, but some teenagers are unable to take responsibility because they still use their parents’ bank card and therefore have a rather blurry idea of what their purchases represent. Banks are adapting and offering specific offers for young people aged 10 to 12 without overdraft permits. The teenager can consult their bank statements in the mobile application and track their daily expenses. He also uses a bank card linked to his account and finally understands what this very abstract means of payment used by adults is for. For each expense line on your account statement and declining budget.
Some parents argue with their child for a good report card or housework for a few francs. It’s a good idea?
As for housework, I am not in favor of this concept. You can clean and put the cutlery in the dishwasher free of charge, it is part of family cohesion: everyone helps each other and sharing tasks is beneficial. On the other hand, if the child brings good news, why not offer him a reward. It is better if the money materializes in a real gift. But it doesn’t have to be a carrot every time to get a good grade. In such a case, a permanent remuneration system would be activated, so that children enter a system of blackmail and systematic bargaining.
Do we have to worry when our teenager wants to work mainly for its financial benefits? How do you basically tell him “you can’t buy happiness with money”?
No need to formalize. It is a motivation like any other that can develop during the study. The right response is to explain to the child that it is ideal to combine this desire with the pleasure that work brings us, because it is a daily task that is repeated throughout the year. Nevertheless, this conversation can be an opportunity to remember that joy and joy do not always go through unbridled material consumption. Baking a cake, dancing to music, playing a board game, which is free, also brings joy.
Tiphaine Honnet / Le Figaro