Teaching children money management

Our family is facing a temporary financial crisis and my husband has asked us to reduce household expenses for two months. My 11-year-old son has misunderstood the situation as dire and has become non-communicative. Should I consult a professional counsellor? — Preethi Chaddha, Chandigarh

For children, money-related and concepts such as “reducing expenses” are abstract and can cause anxiety. You need to educate him about money management. Give him a small sum of money and ask him to maintain four piggy banks, for savings, charity, investment and expenditure. Encourage him to manage the money efficiently. Your temporary financial crisis provides a good opportunity to help him understand money management and discuss his father’s financial troubles. Only if this strategy doesn’t work, should you call in a counsellor.

My daughter is preparing to write the CBSE class X board exam in 2020. My husband’s cousin’s daughter will also take the same exam next year. My mother-in-law is always comparing their report cards and marks. This irritates my daughter. How do I explain to my mother-in-law that comparisons are odious? — Prameela Balakrishnan, Kochi

Though you can counsel your mother-in-law that a little restraint and understanding from her will go a long way in helping her granddaughter cope with board exam pressure, it’s usually difficult to change the well-entrenched attitudes and behaviour of elders. I suggest that you focus on supporting your daughter in this crucial academic year. Advise her to develop coping strategies such as ignoring her grandmother’s comparisons, practise breathing techniques and yoga to calm down, and develop positive life attitudes.

Last year we shifted to a new city and my children, aged six (son) and eight (daughter) years, started attending a new school. Recently I was informed by my son’s class teacher that he still does not interact freely with classmates and has few friends. Please advise.— Harshvardhini Bhatia, Haryana

Male children take longer than girl children to adapt to new social situations especially if they lack opportunities for free, unstructured, outdoor play with peers. They are also less likely to use language for communication. You should make an effort to provide him time every day for free unstructured play with his peers. Also, reduce gadget and screen time. You will notice change in his behaviour in three-six months.

My 15-year-old daughter is neither too thin nor too fat. But she believes she has become obese and is skipping her meals. I am worried about her health. Is this a passing phase? — Neha Palekar, Mumbai

Media and peer pressure to look physically attractive affects most adolescents who are constantly shamed for being different from the ideal body image. It’s advisable to consult a professional dietician who will counsel her on the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise and fitness. On the home front, make fitness and health an important priority — as opposed to following weight loss regimens — and encourage all family members to participate and bond through collaborative physical exercise.

(Aarti Rajaratnam is director of the Child Guidance Centre and Counseling Clinic, Salem/Chennai)

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