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The Family Project: Money dearest for four-year-old

Q. My son is four-years-old, and over the years he has received money as presents. We have put the money in a savings account for him. Now he is starting to want toys and he knows that he has received money from relatives and friends. Do we let him use some of the money to buy toys or insist that he save it all? How do we teach him good money skills?

The response to this question from the panelists was that the parents should definitely let the four-year-old spend some of the money for something he wants, with conditions.

For one thing, the people who gave money to the boy probably expected him to spend it, panelist Chad Stefanyak said: “They likely gave money because they didn’t know what toys the boy had, or what he wanted.”

“Insisting that he save all the money isn’t going to work well,” panelist Joanne Raftas said, adding, “Insisting that he needs to do what his parents want is not a good lesson, and putting all of the money away isn’t teaching the boy anything.”

Raftas suggested making a plan with the boy for what he wants to buy, and how much it will cost.

Several of the panelists talked about having a conversation on the boy’s level to establish a percentage of what can be spent and or saved.

“The discussion should be ongoing,” panelist Mike Daniels saidm adding, “When the child goes shopping with mom, they can discuss the difference between buying groceries and fun things. The parents also need to talk about their values about money, and how they spend it.”

Panelist Denise Continenza suggested that there are opportunities to teach a child about donating to charities.

“It is important that children learn about helping others,” panelist Pam Wallace Wallace said, suggesting that the parent show the four-year-old how his account is doing.

The panel agreed that there are a lot of good resources for children to learn about saving money.

“For older kids,” Stefanyak said, “there are opportunities to invest small amounts of money to learn about the stock market. There also are opportunities to invest in different small companies.”

This week’s panel: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, and Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh Children & Youth.

Have a question? Email: projectchild@projectchildlv.org

The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health-care provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.