Experience: A crucial step toward independence

There are some things that children have to learn for themselves. Their parents can't do it for them: cleaning their room, doing chores, staying safe, speaking in public, developing a healthy sexuality, building relationships and, of course, learning about money.

All young people have to experience these things for themselves, says developmental psychologist Richard Cloutier. It's essential that as parents, we gradually provide them with these experiences, so they become more competent, he says. Take money, for example: we can't expect that a young person will know how to use a credit card wisely the day they turn 18, if they haven't had gradual access to the world of credit, he says.

Their relationship with money develops over time. If they're sheltered from all financial concerns, it will be very hard for them to manage their day-to-day finances.

Create a zone of power in which they can develop their skills

Very early on, children are able to understand how a budget works. Cloutier says that if we, as parents, give them experiences, tools and a space in which to reflect, they'll be better able to understand the value of money and the right financial behaviours to adopt.

Children don't become independent overnight, he says. They develop autonomy over time, as they gradually gain more experience. By gradually empowering them, giving them responsibility bit by bit, parents enable their kids to build their independence muscles. They can create a space in which children can steer their own ship, so to speak. In financial terms, savings is undoubtedly one of the first "ships" that children learn to sail on their own.

By giving their children concrete experiences, parents are also creating a space in which they can ask their kids how things are going: is their "ship" staying afloat, where do they want it to go, who do they want to take along for the journey, etc. All these actions are part of what is called empowerment, meaning access to a zone of power in which they can practice new skills. All these experiences lead to autonomy, says Cloutier.

To do with children

Discover our educational activities to get children comfortable with money: