“That’s not fair! Taylor gets rewarded to do things I do on my own!”
“Well, you’re not Taylor.”
I used to feel a little guilty when one of my five kids would call me out on “inconsistent” treatment when it came to shaping their money habits.
Before long, I realized that my kids were the ones who were “inconsistent.” Despite the same parenting — as far as we know — each had their own unique personalities. What was good for the goose wasn’t always good for the gander. We found it was more effective to devise habit building techniques that were consistent with their individual personalities, not just blindly consistent across the board in the name of “fairness.”
That squares with the research and thinking of Gretchen Rubin, author of the book Better Than Before. The book deconstructs the secrets to making good habits and breaking bad ones.
Gretchen finds that habit forming strategies are not one-size-fits-all. The best fit depends on an individual’s tendencies toward responding to expectations. In her book, an individual is either an Upholder, an Obliger, a Questioner, or a Rebel.
An Upholder or an Obliger will often respond well to an external expectation or reward to shape a solid money habit. A Questioner might — after a detailed discussion. A Rebel won’t. Learn more in Gretchen’s excellent discussion with Paula Pant on the Afford Anything podcast.
Take Gretchen’s online test. Which one are you? Take the test in the shoes of your kids. Which ones are they? Is everybody the same, or different?
I’m an Upholder according to the test results. Between my wife and the five kids, we have members in all four buckets.
What’s the point when it comes to helping your kids build good money habits? Know your kid first. Pick the strategy second. Picking one approach just for the sake of consistency with other kids (or your own upbringing) may not be fair after all.
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