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Help your young child reach money milestones

Most people get their money habits and skills from their parents and caregivers. Here is some background in how children develop financially.

Skills and abilities to develop now for financial well-being later

Learning to plan ahead, wait for things they want, and finish what they start helps children (and adults) achieve financial well-being. According to Bureau research, these skills are a foundation for behaviors that support financial well-being such as goal setting, planning, saving for the future, and sticking to a budget.

Check out activities and conversation starters

At this age, your child can develop these skills:

  • Ability to focus on what he has to do
  • Persistence to keep going even if it’s not easy
  • Ability to recognize trade-offs when it comes to things he cares about, like time, money, treats, or belongings

Your child is also working on:

  • Understanding what’s important about keeping and using things like time, money, treats, or belongings
  • Basic math skills, like counting and sorting
  • Abstract ideas like money and making trades or exchanges

Behaviors to look for

Your child’s behavior might be on track when they:

  • Show patience
  • Take their time
  • Try again and again

Your child might need your help when they:

  • Show frustration or temper
  • Fail to pay attention

Tips that can help

Keep in mind that you’re teaching about money, on purpose or not

Your children are constantly watching and listening, so they might absorb more than you think. When you shop for a bargain, or splurge on a treat, or plan a special occasion, you’re showing your kids how you think about money.

Don’t worry too much about things you don’t know

Don’t feel confident about money matters? You’re in good company. Most people don’t. And that’s okay. Every day, you excel at something your children need to learn—whether it’s managing your time between work and home, saving money when you shop, or planning for a future event.

Try this: Think out loud

From your actions, your children often draw their own conclusions—and sometimes they might not be what you intended! When you think out loud, you clarify what you’re doing and why. Try getting into the habit of thinking out loud during your day-to-day money and time management, so your kids can follow along.