YOU influence your child’s financial learning and gratification style.
Gratification styles are one of the most common concepts in financial learning. If you have not heard of it, let’s watch this video to get an idea of what gratification is.
While this may sound like “grown-up stuff”, we experience gratification from young.
Although children tend to prefer instant gratification, there is no right or wrong gratification habit. Instant and delayed gratification have their own advantages and disadvantages. As adults play a role in directing our children’s take on gratification, we need to actively help them build both. Here is how you can influence your child’s gratification style.
1) Use a reward system that caters to both gratification styles
Firstly, you can consider setting up a reward system which offers two different rewards. One reward would be a sweet for every piece of homework your child completes. The other reward will be a meal of your child’s choice if she studies diligently across 2 weeks. Such a reward system will allow your child to contrast having something immediately against waiting patiently for a more attractive reward.
Depending on how your child chooses, have conversations with them on the rationale behind their choice. If your child consistently chooses the sweet, encourage them to consider the perks of waiting. This reward system could also be used to help your child make decisions in simulation of other real life scenarios. By gaining exposure to such decisions earlier on, they not only appreciate the two gratification styles but also develop skills for making choices.
2) Lead by example
Always lead by example in your everyday life and keep your word. By being consistent, this builds your child’s trust in flexing their gratification style with you. While the marshmallow test normally shows a child’s willpower, there were variations conducted to prove the influence of an adult. In these variations, children would witness a dishonest/unreliable act by the adult before the experiment began. Results proved that when the same adult conducted the experiment, these children were less likely to wait for the second marshmallow.
Children are capable of observing bad behaviours and creating an impression of people. If you were to go back on your promises or make empty promises, they would not trust your reward system. Such behaviour will only prompt them to think about the ‘safest’ option – the most immediate reward in front of them. This naturally pushes them to practise instant gratification more often, and hence overlook delayed gratification.
3) Give your children a say in their financial learning and gratification style
There is value learnt through our own experience. Consider giving your child an allowance or a say in how they want to deal with the money they receive as gifts. You can offer them suggestions, but let them make the decision on their own. Perhaps your child might choose the instant gratification route a countless number of times, but eventually they will realise the pitfalls of spending. That is when they can realise and learn. Real life experience involving managing their own money would prompt them to think more wisely with every decision. As time passes, they would get used to both gratification styles and be able to make better judgements on when each style is used.
Often, we may think that children have straightforward thought processes and are only affected by whatever’s happening to them at that instant. In reality, they are able to observe and make their own judgments based on those around them. That is why the environment that you shape affects their personalities. In one of our previous articles, we mentioned that gratification styles can lead to different financial choices later on in life. It is thus important that our children become aware and actively choose the appropriate habit for the situation. Hence, we should enable them to explore gratification in an environment that allows them to build both gratification habits!