Children and Issues

Particularly as children get older, some subjects arise that need to be tackled properly and confidently in order to avoid trouble later. These things are addressed in schools, but not always in ways that are comfortable for the individual child or which answer all his or her questions. It’s up to the parent, really, to do a full job with these topics. Here are some tips on how to go about it.

1. Discuss money and how it works.

Strangely enough, apart from in the subject of Business Studies, and perhaps peripherally in Maths, money as a subject is rarely addressed directly in schools. And yet it can dominate a person’s life. Competence in dealing with it marks a kind of borderline between childhood and adulthood. But the advice is ‘Keep it simple’. One teacher’s attempt to talk about chequebooks and how they operate lost a whole class in minutes, partly because the subject can be full of its own hard-to-grasp terminology and partly because the teenagers involved lacked any kind of familiarity with what was being talked about. Start with coins and how they are used, then bridge over onto how much money it takes to purchase certain basics in life (toys, food, shelter, a car and so forth). Don’t expect the child to master complex economics or suddenly express a desire to be an entrepreneur, but make sure that basics are covered before someone else comes along and makes the whole topic really confusing.

2. Get work experience organised if appropriate.

Most children spend a lot of time at school. By the time they get to puberty, many are ‘chomping at the bit’ to get out into the ‘real world’ and experience it. Legally in the UK, children must stay in some form of formal education until they are 18 years of age, so leaving school earlier than that isn’t a realistic option. But you can organise work experience. Contact your child’s school and discuss the options. The school may already have a programme in operation, or, if not, might be open to ideas. If not, you can sort something out yourself for after school. Spending part of the week doing a useful job can be a good bridge into the workaday world and for some children it can prevent a kind of school ‘cabin fever’.

3. Include children in important family decisions.

If there is some major change occurring in the family -ranging from a trauma to moving house or even emigrating- make sure that you consult children, especially teenagers. That doesn’t mean that you are always going to get a sensible answer or the answer you want -and as the adult on the scene it is always going to be up to you to make the final decisions - but the mere fact that you are asking for input engages the child’s or the teenager’s better side and shows t