It’s true that children live in a world of fantasy most of the time. In general this should be encouraged- having an active imagination is a sign of a healthy, happy, productive child. The issue can be, though, being unable to distinguish reality from fantasy when it comes to television commercials.
Children are generally more astute than what adults give them credit for, but the truth of the matter is that it can be difficult for them to tell the difference between real and make believe when it comes to the world of advertisements. Advertisements, after all, are often designed to make the product look more remarkable or appealing as compared to what it actually is – and advertising toward kids is especially effective in this regard.
It’s important to teach children the difference between what a product advertised can actually do versus how campaigns make it seem on television. You don’t have to do this by outwardly crushing the hopes, dreams, and imagination of a child, but rather through comparing what the product can actually do compared with how it appears on the screen.
One of the most important lessons that can be learned from budgeting and spending money is that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. It’s important for children to realize this in terms of their money – when they can see past the varnish that most advertising campaigns put on their products, they’ll be able to more accurately judge which products are worth their money.
Consider sitting down with your children before they go out to make major purchases with their money and discussing the purchase. Why do they want the item in question? How much does it cost, and are they buying it from the cheapest retailer? If they aren’t, what are the reasons that they’re spending more money when it could be potentially bought cheaper elsewhere? Does the item in question go on sale during a particular time of year, and would it be better to wait until later to make this particular purchase?
This seems like a lot of questions to ask a young one, but these are important issues to install into your children when they are small if you want them to grow up to be money-conscious. Of course, you don’t need to hover over every single candy bar that they purchase, just be there as a reliable counsel for when they spend money on larger items.
Parental involvement in their children’s spending habits is important in facilitating healthy understanding of how money works and how it should be handled. Be sure to include your children in your own monetary decisions – clue them in to what is happening and you’ll be planting the seeds for a healthy financial future.