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Teach Your Kids About Generosity, Not Just Money

Personal Finance

There are many studies that touch on the effects that handling money has on children. Most of these studies highlight the importance of learning the value of a dollar and recognizing that money is earned, not given.

A recent study published by University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management and University of Illinois at Chicago supports claims that children who are exposed to money at a young age tend to work harder and have a better understanding of the value of a dollar. However, the study introduced a potential negative effect money can have on children: it might make them less generous.

The study consisted of multiple experiments that separated children into three groups: money sorters, button sorters, and sticker sorters. The children who sorted money were less likely to help an adult clean up the room after the experiment. They were also less generous with the rewards they received during the experiments.

Kathleen Vohs, the Land O’Lakes Chair in Marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study, said that the behavior in children mirrors patterns in adults studied in Europe, Asia, and North America.

So what does this mean? The study confirmed some positive results about the effects money can have on children. For instance, the children who sorted money instead of buttons or stickers showed a willingness to work longer on difficult tasks while children in the other groups tended to give up sooner.

It’s important to continue to educate your child about money. However, that’s not enough. Parents must teach kids about generosity, not just money. Jesus said it’s better to give than it is to receive (Acts 20:35), but how can parents instill that idea in their children?

Simply by talking to them.

According to a 2013 study conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, “talking about charitable giving is more effective than simply role-modeling charitable behavior.”

The Indiana University study indicated that 87 percent of the children said their parents talked to them about giving to charity. Also, 88 percent of the children in the study either gave money to or volunteered for a charitable cause at least once during a two-year period.

Teaching your kids about money is certainly an important element of parenting that should not be abandoned. Equally important, though, is teaching your children about charitable giving and selflessness. After all, what parent wouldn’t like seeing their child embrace Biblical principles of generosity?

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