As the author of four children’s financial education books, I am invited to talk with children, teachers or parents about this topic. When the chat is with the children (from the age of four) some important issues catch my attention. And they do not vary according to the economic condition of the students.
The first aspect to highlight is the consumer behavior already present in these children. They are small big consumers of various product categories: toys, clothes, travel. Since they obviously have no income of their own, they end up consuming all these products with the income of their parents or other family members. Stimulated by the advertising that reaches them in many different ways, they know which products they want to have and what their brands are. Just watch the programming of one of the channels aimed at children to witness the bombardment of advertising that encourages them to consume the most diverse releases of the toy and entertainment industry.
But many of them end up stimulating consumption even more. There are several reasons. Many parents who did not have a childhood surrounded by material goods find it fair that their children do not have the same deprivations as they did. Other parents, in turn, believe that material well-being can make up for the lack of time to be with their children. After all, professional success requires a great deal of dedication and this same success is what guarantees the family’s quality of life. For them there is no other way.
A second aspect observed is that for children, work is about making money. Certainly, this opinion has been shaped by observations of the behavior surrounding adults have about work. Limiting the value of work only to the material reward that comes from it can greatly harm children’s education. There are more values attached to work. After all, one of the most important reasons for working is the possibility that we can achieve it through it. Realization as a person, capable of accomplishing something competently, of doing something with passion. Another importance of work is allowing us to help other people. With our work, we are able to improve other people’s lives.
And finally, another observation is that most children summarize their dreams for the future to be rich. And it should be noted that this also occurs in groups of children from private schools. In other words, most of the families in these schools must have a very good standard of living, even allowing the option for a private school. And this is sad, because it is in childhood that we must have the most diverse dreams. At this time we can dream of being a week astronauts, the next we are already a soccer player and shortly after we dream of being a doctor. Money must be consequence, not objective, and children should be taught to understand it.