Is it Okay for Kids to Be Motivated by Money?

A motivated little girl is holding a jar of money.

Parents who use the BusyKid app are strongly motivated to teach their children about financial responsibility. They want their children to learn how to save, earn money through work, invest wisely, and give back to important causes…all of which can be experienced through the app.

Most of us grow up with the messaging we received from our own parents about money, and it shapes our attitudes in an enduring way. Today, we’ll look at the psychology behind money and how to best use the BusyKid app to insure we teach our children to have a healthy relationship with it.

We asked psychologist (and parent of two) Dr. Todd Snyder for his input on whether or not it is safe for kids to be motivated by money. He states it’s important to understand that money is nothing but a means of exchange and not intrinsically “good” or “bad” in itself. He explains further, “Money is a neutral tool that we trade for that which we need or value. Teaching our kids to think of it this way can reduce the degree to which their sense of identity is wrapped up in money, allowing them to more effectively invest in the life they feel inspired to invent.”

Encouraging your kids to set up specific goals for their BusyKid savings will help them begin to see money in this way. This way, your kids can track their progress and understand they are completing chores and earning allowance to (for example) get the soccer goal for the backyard they need in order to practice and earn a spot on the team.

Dr. Snyder, who is also a productivity coach to business owners, had this to say on the topic, “I’ve worked with wealthy entrepreneurs who have forgotten what they started chasing money for. We sometimes need to slow down and ask the question, ‘if you doubled your income next year, how would it change your life?’ This is essentially the same question I ask my kids when I assign them optional chores for which they could be paid: ‘What else could you use your time for, and how does it compare with the fun or adventures this money could buy?’”

You may think kids experience happiness from the possessions they are able to buy, but don’t overlook the effect of the donation feature on the BusyKid app. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ spirits more than spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier).

In a 2006 National Institute of Health study, it was found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with trust, social connection, and pleasure; scientists believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing a “helper’s high”. The BusyKid app wants children to feel good giving to others in need. There’s a great list of worthy causes on the dashboard, and soon kids will be able to add their own charities so they can give to a nonprofit they know and care about already.

Finally, investing in real stocks such as Netflix and Disney via the BusyKid app may have psychological benefits for your children as well. In a Wealthify survey, investors reported an increase in feelings of security, confidence, and satisfaction about their finances as a result of their investing habits. Investing, alongside the other features on the app, can give children a much-needed sense of control. Hundreds of studies have found that this sense of control – even more than actually being in control – is associated with virtually everything we want for our children, including physical and mental health, self-motivation, academic achievement, and career success!

Your children are impressionable when it comes to what they believe about money, and BusyKid is here to support your efforts to teach them all the best lessons – lessons grounded in financial responsibility and psychological well-being. Dr. Snyder finds the opportunities money affords are much bigger than merely things, and motivation for earning should be a reflection of this. “Money buys the freedom to pursue things that hold greater intrinsic purpose. The entrepreneurs I work with find financial security allows them to begin turning their thoughts to satisfying the longing for investing their time, mindshare, and energy in things that hold greater intrinsic purpose or meaning.”

There are several positive outcomes for children from making and managing money. Psychologically, children benefit from the idea of agency over their own lives by becoming focused, goal-directed, optimistic – and not highly stressed. Remember these perspectives and feel comfortable as you oversee their use of the BusyKid app and their funds.
Parent Takeaways!

  • Talk about money around your children, expressing a healthy relationship with it and reinforcing that it is neither “good” nor bad”, but a way to create the life you want to live.
  • Ask your children Dr. Snyder’s question about what they use their time for, and what adventures that could buy…or make up a comparable one of your own to help them explore the “why” of their decisions.
  • Have a list of extra chores in mind, and how much you will pay for their completion, should your child show initiative to earn more in order to meet his/her goals.
  • Teach kids what a SMART goal is (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) and then help them create their own goals using this format.
    Help your child research causes or charities that are meaningful to them; ask them how they feel after making a donation!
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