Last Friday it was a little chaotic at home. Chubby has to work late and Zai’s cousins were over at our place. So at a certain point of time I have to take care of 4 kids at one go.
Zai was in his usual self, finding things to do. First it was painting then it was stickers. He wanted me to play with him his favourite sticker book. Which is to paste the different animal stickers into the backgrounds to be with their “parents”. He loves the book so much that we have taken out the stickers a couple of time that it no longer stick properly. So he accidentally tore off the head of one of the animals that day. He showed it to me but I was busy with the girls that I told him to wait.
When I’m finally free (which is like 5 minutes later), I turn to him and he happily showed me his hand fill with “crushed” stickers. I was upset and I asked him why did he crush the stickers? He told me cause they were torn. I then took the stickers from his hand and open them up one by one. True enough some of them were torn but there were also some that was not. So I asked him again “Why did you crush them? You can’t play with them now.”.
The reply from the boy shocked me. He said “MeeMee buy new one”. I said “No. Cause the sticker book isn’t broken, but you purposely ‘spoil’ it”. And I also don’t want the boy to have the thinking that money comes easily and he could just go ahead break his toys or stuff and Mommy will buy a new one.
At this point of time, something came to my mind. I remembered I read previously in Young Parents about how to teach the concept of ‘money’ to pre-schoolers. So I adopted the same technique. I told the boy “If you want a new book, that will cause you about 5 Yalkuts.” The boy couldn’t understand and just say “Ok”. I tried to explain further and said “That means, after MeiMei finish 5 bottles of Yalkuts then you can get to drink.” He still couldn’t quite understand. I explain further “I will keep the bottles MeiMei drink. After I collected 5 bottles, then you can join MeiMei to drink Yalkut the next time. And I will use that money to buy the new sticker book for you.”
He seems to get it after this. He claims that he doesn’t want the sticker book anymore. I told him even so, I still have to buy for MeiMei to play, so he still have to give up 5 bottles of Yalkut. He was really upset with this. I gave him a chance and told him that for this time I will let him go. But if I find him “spoiling” toys on purpose, I will charge him accordingly. He agrees and seems to get it.
On Sunday when he was over at my parents place, he was sitting on the plastic cover my Mom use to cover food. I told him, you can sit, but if you break it, it will cause you about 10 bottles of Yalkut. He understood immediately but give me a sheepish smile and slowly get out of it (ego and ‘face’ issue). I was really glad that my boy seems to understand some form of ‘money’.
I really like this tactic. To use something tangible that the kids can understand to teach them the concept of ‘money’. I think after this, the boy has a better understanding. And I have to remind myself to stop getting toys for the kids. The reply from the boy shows that he thinks that Mommy has lots of money to buy anything and everything that he wants.
What about you? How do you teach a 3 year old or even younger the concept of ‘money’?