Before we had our first child, my husband and I were pretty ignorant to all things baby and children. From the moment we discovered we were joining the ranks of parenthood, we became avid consumers of information. During this journey we have found some fairly surprising things.
- Kids are amazing little sponges. 90% of brain development occurs in early childhood. Laying a solid foundation for education is absolutely critical at this stage. It helps prepare kids to be lifelong learners.
- Kids may not be able to talk to you, but they know what you are saying. Most babies can recognize their own name by four and a half months. By 18 months they can understand 50 words. And by the time they are six, their vocabulary will have exploded to 13,000 words. This is pretty impressive considering the average adults’ vocabulary is 25,000-30,000 words.
- Kids are clever imitators. You may not realize the small things you do influence how your little ones see the world. Make no mistake about it, your actions are teaching your child, for better or worse.
When I was told people question whether four is too young to teach children about money, I chuckled thinking of a recent interaction with my almost three year old.
A couple months ago I ran out to Target to buy our youngest daughter a sippy cup. It was pink, had a straw, and two little handles. For some reason, our oldest daughter wanted it. Mind you, she has been drinking out of a good old fashioned regular cup for months. No straw. No fancy lid. Just a regular old cup. But the second little sister had one, she seemed to have to have one too.
So what did I do? I ran out the very next day and bought her her own sippy cup. This was genius in my mind. I was staving off any future discussions with her about why it was her sister’s cup and why she could not drink out of it.
Fast forward a month and I pull one of my oldest daughters’ old sippy cups out of the cupboard to give to our youngest for school. Our oldest saw it and immediately wanted it. I explained to her that this was her sister’s cup now because she is still learning to drink, blah, blah. You know the drill. She says it is okay, but would I go to the store tomorrow to buy her one?
In that moment she taught me a valuable lesson. At the very tender age of almost three, I was teaching her a terrible money habit. I was teaching her if she wanted something, mommy would buy her one of her very own, even though she had absolutely no need for it.
I was stunned, after all I am a financial planner, a Certified Financial Planner™ for crying out loud! But for all my training and counseling of clients, here I was teaching my child a terrible financial habit. I knew in that moment, I needed to change. I needed help. I did not and do not want my children thinking this is how we spend money.
So, for the naysayers, learn from me, young kids totally get it. Their minds soak in and soak up information all the time. Now, she is getting Sammy Rabbit, because all my other research has shown me, it is never too early to instill good habits.