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Talking Money Matters With Kids During Economic Crisis

November 3, 2008

Kansas City, MO- While the global financial meltdown poses a nightmare for government leaders and many families, it's also providing what psychologists call a "teachable moment." Experts say parents sometimes spend more time talking to kids about money, or the lack of it, when modeling good money management may be more helpful.

Dr. Ed Christophersen, a clinical psychologist with Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, says the natural instinct for many parents is to protect their kids from tough financial problems. But when parents have to say 'no' to extras for the kids as they watch their wallets, they can set good examples for their children on money management. And, says Christophersen, the children already know about the economic turmoil.

"They can see it and are talking about it in school, and parents spend entirely too much time talking to their children, while they don't realize how much importance the kids place on the behaviors of parents."

Christophersen warns parents to avoid fighting over money in front of their children. Instead, he encourages them to spend time showing kids how to work through problems.

"What the kids need to see is not just that a job was lost, or a home or car was repossessed, but they also need to see how mom or dad or both work their way out of that situation."

Children will learn more about money by having some of their own to manage, Christophersen adds. He recommends setting up an allowance for a child, agreeing on how much the child will earn and what they can buy with the money. He also suggests taking time to teach kids the power of saving and earning interest, by paying kids once a month, and perhaps adding a few extra bucks in "interest" for keeping their money in a savings account.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO