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How to Teach Kids Stewardship

by Marcy Berg

"Stewardship" means managing resources in a responsible manner. It includes learning to manage time, money and other resources. Teaching kids stewardship is vital to ensuring that they become good financial managers as adults. Stewardship also helps children learn critical skills, including patience, delayed gratification and generosity.

Children learn stewardship by watching their parents and actively participating in handling money.

Parents lead by example.

Model stewardship for your children. Children learn behavior by watching the adults in their lives. If their parents manage their money well by saving for large expenses, paying bills on time, avoiding impulse purchases and giving generously to the church or charities, then children will begin to make similar choices.

Kids will save if they are taught to save.

Teach children to budget and handle money at a young age. To learn stewardship, children need money to manage. Children should receive regular allowances for completing chores. Before giving your children their allowances, sit down with them and help them to create a budget or spending plan for the money. Using your family's values, help your children to plan to put some of their money away for long-term spending, designate some money to donate and plan how the remaining funds will be spent. Encourage short-term saving of money for purchases of items like CDs, DVDs or video games.

Children can participate in making banking transactions as early as age 5.

Open a savings account for your child, at approximately age 5 or 6, that is separate from money that you may be saving for her college. Take the child to the bank with you and let her participate in the business of opening a bank account. Each time your child receives an allowance and has funds to deposit into her account, take her to the bank and help her to conduct as much of the business as possible. Going to the bank to deposit the money personally helps the child to develop responsibility.

Be patient with children while they learn stewardship skills.

Be patient with your children as they learn to be responsible with money. Children tend to be impulsive and want to spend their money as soon as they receive it on the most recent thing that has attracted their attention. Learning stewardship, saving and giving is especially difficult if it is begun with older children. The earlier a child is given the responsibility of handling money, the smoother the skill-building will be.

About the Author

Marcy Berg has been writing and editing newsletters for nonprofit organizations since 1999. She is a mental health therapist, specializing in working with at-risk adolescents, and covers topics related to disabilities and foster care. Berg holds a Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling from Western Oregon University.

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