How can being a good role model help my kids manage money?

Iris Rodriguez-Johnson, MD

Being a good role model in managing money will help your children to learn the skills to save and manage their own money. Children learn by example. If they see you splurging and not having a care in the world about what you buy, they will grow up to do the same. If they see you budgeting, saving, and spending wisely this may teach them the right way to good money management.

Michele Borba
If you always are overdrawn, why expect your son to set a budget? If you buy clothes impulsively why should you expect your daughter to wait for the sale? If you don’t talk about the value of money, don’t think your child is ever going to learn that money doesn’t grow on trees. So be the model of money management you want your kids to copy. They are watching. Use the holidays to show how you wait for that buy or look for the best deal.

The most effective thing we can do as parents is to be good role models for our children.  If we pay attention to what we eat and how we exercise and treat our bodies, our children will learn by our example and do the same. Children pick up everything from us, good and bad, healthy or unhealthy.

The attention you give to your child’s activities and eating should be positive, not negative.  A good example is when a child participates in an organized sport at school; you should praise their participation and performance, and not criticize them for their mistakes. They will know when they’ve made a mistake or not performed well, and it is the coach’s responsibility to deal with that.  As a parent, you need to be supportive and encouraging above all else.  

The same thing applies to eating.  If you praise them for eating well and explain that they are doing something very good for themselves, it will become a matter of habit and routine for them to eat well.  On the other hand, if they are ridiculed, embarrassed or teased about being overweight and making wrong food choices, they may begin to use food for emotional comfort, eating more of the wrong things and creating a pattern that could lead to a lifetime of being overweight or obese.

The best advice I can give a parent is to be sure you present a well-balanced selection of foods to choose from at each meal.  If given the choice, children will generally choose to eat what their bodies need. Have plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, yogurt, granola bars, baked chips and low fat crackers available for snacks and your child will develop the habit of eating healthy snacks rather than junk food.  Just as with a good adult nutrition plan, children’s snacks should always be nutritious and not contain empty calories or extra fat.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.