Money matters with children
In a recent survey*, the vast majority of
told us they feel it is important to
teach their children about money, but over a quarter don't feel equipped to have that first 'money
Our research found that often it's because parents find it hard to have financial conversations or
things in a way their child would understand. Many feel unsure how – or when – to approach money
To help, here are some tools to support you to talk confidently and openly to children about money.
Six tips for talking money matters with children
Psychologist Emma Kenny has shared her top tips for teaching children about money,
in a way
that will help set a positive and confident financial foundation for little ones from an early age.
Introduce your child to the concept of money as early
Whether it's through play or simple observations in and outside of the home - try to look for
introduce your child to the concept of money. This could be as simple as giving your child their
budget to buy something when you do your weekly shop - whether that's a snack or a treat like a
or crayons, enabling them to make choices within their budget. These early conversations are
can help your children to understand the concept and value of money, but also help to set a
confident financial foundation, which could help them later in life.
Help your child appreciate the value of setting and
Whether you give your child a little pocket money for good behaviour - or for doing small chores
house, such as keeping their room tidy - earning a small reward helps to bring a sense of
they finally reach that all important goal. Psychological studies have shown that delayed
important for children to experience as in the short-term it encourages self-control and
patience, while in
the long-term, it can help contribute to academic success, social responsibility and a greater
dealing with stress and frustration.
Try using the three 'W's'
When your child asks for a particular item, a practical tool you could use to help them think
they are spending their money is the three W's: What is it they want? What is it for? Why do
they need it?
using this approach and encouraging your child to answer these questions for themselves, you are
them to consider their choices. This is a life lesson that your child can carry with them as
they get older
and it will help them develop a sense of gratitude for the items they do receive.
Make learning fun through play
Interactive activities, such as counting money, playing shop or reading a poem or rhyme, are
methods of helping children to better understand the concept of money. The benefits of bringing
life through interactive play are multi-fold and include children becoming better problem
solvers - with an
increased ability for critical thinking - nurturing creativity and imagination, and building
skills such as
compromise, conflict resolution and sharing. When it comes to playing shop, to help children
you could try adding price tags to different priced items, such as toys, alongside everyday
items, such as
fruit and vegetables, as this will help your child see the value of different items alongside
each other. If
you're looking for some further inspiration, M&S Bank has partnered with children's poet Roger
create a poem, which helps parents answer some of the most common questions children ask about
money – you
read and download the poem.
Show how money can be budgeted and spent in different
To help your child understand that the family budget accounts for more than just the physical
see – such as the weekly food shop - you could share practical examples of your family budget,
that are easy
to understand, and that your children can get involved with. This could be something as simple
small amount each month to a family day out or activity and then involving your children in
deciding on what
the day out should be – you could explain that if they go for a picnic one month, next month
they could all
to the zoo. Not only does this help your child understand the different ways the family budget
is spent, it
gives them a sense of excitement and responsibility.
Help them understand different ways to pay, such as
One of the challenges parents said they have when teaching their child about money was helping
the value of money in the context of digital payments*. To help overcome this, when you next
talk to your
child about money - or play shop - you could try using a range of different payments - including
payments such as contactless and card transactions - so it becomes familiar territory. When you
online, you could also show them how digital payments work.
* Data from a survey conducted by One Poll in July 2020 with a sample
You can hear more from Emma Kenny in our helpful videos. Simply watch the videos
explore the topics you
want to know more about.
Using the "Three Ws" technique (what do you want, what is it for, and why do you need it),
explains how to encourage children to understand the difference between luxuries and
Research commissioned by M&S Bank found that four in ten parents believe it’s
important to teach their children about money, but are unsure how, and when, they should
start the conversation.
It’s important to take the time to talk confidently and openly with children about
money, and from an early age – children are quick learners and the sooner you
start educating them, the better they will understand the concept and the value of
Even with children as young as three years old, techniques, such as the 3 W’s can
be used to help set a positive financial foundation.
Simply asking ‘what is it you want, ‘what is it for’, and ‘why do
you need it’ helps children to make more considered spending choices.
This is a lifelong tool, and one that will stand them in good stead for future, money
Emma Kenny shares how to introduce money to children in a fun and accessible way, including
can use rhyme to aid learning with help from award-winning poet, Roger McGough.
M&S Bank research found that six in ten parents felt they should be doing more to
help their little ones learn about money, and from an earlier age.
Children love learning when it is interactive and fun, so introducing children to money
in an accessible and enjoyable way can really help build good financial foundations from
an early age.
An effective way to do this is through play, or through storytelling, rhymes and
Children love anything that involves rhyme, and they also enjoy the process of learning
verses, allowing you to teach them important lessons about the topic of money using a
M&S Bank has partnered with renowned children’s poet Roger McGough to develop a
poem that you can use to help teach children about money.
Check it out on the website now.
As the world moves further towards a cashless society, Emma Kenny explores how to 'play shop'
modern way and make sure that children understand the different types of transactions and
Cashless or digital payments are becoming increasingly more the norm for many of
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that M&S Bank found that more than a
third of parents are concerned about helping their children understand the value of
money in a world of digital payments.
To help children understand different methods of payment –introduce the concept of
contactless when playing shop.
Tapping a contactless card at their play shop – as well as utilising coins and
notes for some transactions – will help the child to make the connection between
the two different payment methods.
Does money really grow on trees?
Poems can help with learning by evoking long lasting memories and understanding. Over a quarter of
told us that they wished they had a rhyme to use to help teach children about money.
One of Britain’s most renowned children’s poets, Roger McGough, has written 'Does money really grow
which you can
read and learn together with your child.
Read 'Does money really grow on trees?' by Roger
McGough(PDF Document)(opens in a new window)
* Survey conducted by One Poll in July 2020 with a
size of 2,000 parents.