The Opposite of Spoiled | Ron Lieber

Summary of: The Opposite of Spoiled: How to Talk to Kids About Money and Values in a Material World
By: Ron Lieber


In today’s material world, it’s all too easy for kids to grow up spoiled, associating their self-worth with their possessions. ‘The Opposite of Spoiled’ by Ron Lieber offers insight into how parents can tackle this issue by teaching their children about money, values, and responsibility. It highlights the importance of breaking the taboo surrounding money conversations and explains how involving children in financial decisions can foster understanding and appreciation of money’s value. The book also focuses on teaching kids about budgeting, patience, and generosity to ensure they grow up as well-rounded and responsible individuals.

Spoiling Kids

Spoiled kids don’t develop skills for responsibility and constructive living. Spoiling has less to do with money but stems from the lack of responsibilities, adhesion to schedules, receiving abundant parental attention, and possessing material possessions. Teaching kids about financial literacy can cultivate discipline, charity, and patience, which are the opposite of being spoiled. But we avoid discussing finances, which deprives the children of an opportunity to learn. Parents should break the taboo and initiate discussions about money with children, encouraging them to save, earn, and give money. Such efforts can prevent kids from becoming spoiled and better prepare them for a constructive life.

Teaching Kids about Money

Teaching children about finance is essential to raise a well-grounded child. When a child asks about money, do not react with embarrassment or shame. Instead, ask why they want to know. Many times, children ask about money for a specific reason, like moving or buying a gift for a friend. It’s crucial to give them an honest answer without sugarcoating. Moreover, involving children in financial decisions is necessary. Parents can show them bills and explain how everything requires money. They can also ask their children to guess the cost of something and correct them if they are wrong. By doing this, children can understand the value of money better.

Teaching Kids Good Money Habits

Children’s allowances should be unrelated to chores, and they should be given the freedom to make their own spending mistakes. This way, kids learn about money and budgeting early on.

Parents should start giving their children a small weekly allowance as soon as the child can count. The allowance should be independent of household responsibilities so that kids understand that such chores are necessary and not based on any financial incentive.

Allowing children to spend their money as they wish also gives them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Even if they waste their money initially on seemingly pointless items like candy or cheap plastic toys, this will help them learn the importance of budgeting.

Parents can also talk to their kids about spending habits and teach them to differentiate between what they want and what they need. For example, they can choose between buying the latest popular boots or investing in a more durable and long-lasting pair.

Finally, gradually increasing the allowance amount as the child gets used to spending money also contributes to building a sense of responsibility and good money habits. Allowing them to be in charge of small amounts of money is an excellent way for children to learn the value of money and spend it wisely.

Finding Balance with the Dewey Rule

As parents, it’s natural to want to give your children everything, but there is a danger to the concept of full provisioning. When children are given everything they want, it teaches them to define themselves through their possessions. The Dewey rule suggests that children should be in the 30th percentile of stuff, meaning they won’t always be the first to get the latest gadget, but they will eventually get some of what they want. By teaching kids the importance of waiting for things, they will learn to appreciate what they receive even more. While it can be hard to say no, it’s important to remember that love can’t be bought and finding a happy medium is key.

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