One of the great challenges in raising children is the fulfilment of our natural parental desire in providing them with opportunities for personal growth and development without spoiling them into being too overly-dependent on us.

Here are some suggestions which you could use to show them that you love and care for them without buying too much stuff:


Give your children hugs and kisses

The hectic schedule of our work takes time away from our children. The busier we get, the less affection we tend to give our children. Similar to work, raising children can become a series of tasks to accomplish, activities to complete, and deadlines to meet. We can all benefit by slowing down and giving affection to our children.


Let’s just chill out together

Spend time hanging out and playing games with your children. You may have to free up their time and provide some “encouragement” to win them over to the idea. They may not be comfortable with the idea of playing with you, especially when they are used to watching television, playing computer or video games. To facilitate the process, it might help to have no TV programmes, computer and video games days in your home. For instance, setting aside two weekdays each week where there is no television, computer or video games.


Have a walk in the park

Taking a walk with one of our children can be a refreshing idea. It can be a great way to get some fresh air and exercise while taking a few minutes to connect and have fun. Try not to have unrealistic expectations for lengthy, deep, and profound conversations, take a walk and see what happens.


Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul

In our efforts to teach our children good habits and eradicate poor practices, we may at times focus too much on correcting the negative. Asians are especially not used to giving praise and compliments increasingly get overlooked. Catch your child doing something positive and good several times every day and praise him or her for it.


Be a child again

Whether they are playing, doing their art project, or reading their favourite book, do not be a spectator. Join in the fun and be a child again. You could even rally them to help you with household chores or come up with a creative project using recycled materials. Leverage on the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ concept.


Share stories

Look out for age-appropriate stories in the dailies, on the internet or in the library. For example, share with your children the virtues of thrift and delayed gratification. True stories of people who have made wise choices with their money capture the imagination of young minds, compelling them to develop positive attitudes towards savings.


Spend time with grandparents

Grandparents make excellent story-tellers. Create a time and space for them to spend time with their grandchildren so that they can relay their life experiences. To expand these little ones’ creative juices or literary skills, get them to draw or write what they have heard and learnt. It’s a great way for all to bond. Also, you may learn a thing or two from your parents’ wise words too!


Create a game

“I spy with my eye, something that is round and blue.” Remember the simple pleasures of playing guessing games? Or how about, “I’m thinking of a place”, and your children take turns at asking questions that only elicit a “yes/no” answer to deduce the name of the place you have in mind. They are great fun whether on a road trip or with the family piled together on the bed. Games like these require no hardware, just lots of active imagination.


Fixing Simple Meals

This will take a bit more planning so that safety is observed in the kitchen while the fun ensues. There are plenty of simple and healthy recipes on the internet to try out. Everyone in the family can be assigned different tasks, from weighing ingredients to mixing, marinating and washing. There is nothing more satisfying than sinking one’s teeth into a meal concocted out of wholesome ingredients and synergistic teamwork. Children not only learn to appreciate the efforts that go into fixing home-cooked meals, but also how much money one can save compared with meals at family restaurants and cafes.


To Market, to market

Trips to the supermarket are a welcome treat to the kids for they can feast their eyes on the shelves filled with colourful arrays of candies, snacks or fruits. You may get the children involved with drawing up the grocery list. You can model a simple budget and even get the children to practice budgeting for items they are familiar with. It’s never too early to train them in planning before the spending!


Contributed by Institute for Financial Literacy, a collaboration between MoneySENSE and Singapore Polytechnic.

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