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    Why You Should Give Your Kids an Allowance

    By Tanni Haas, Ph.D. | Contributor

    Experts agree that an allowance can teach kids important money management skills, like how to save for things they want, how to budget their money, and how to choose between competing spending goals. Personal finance expert Brad Munson says an allowance “is a great way to teach kids about the real value of money, how to be organized and responsible, and how to plan for the future.” Financial counselor Ray Martin, who’s the author of several books on money management, adds that an allowance is a great opportunity for kids to experiment with money and to learn from their mistakes. “It’s a way for them to learn big lessons with small amounts of money at an early age.”

    It’s important that you talk to your kids about the value of money, and it’s best to do so in the context of an actual allowance. Certified financial planner Marty Allenbaugh says that talking to your kids about money without giving them an allowance is like trying to teach them how to play the piano without ever letting them sit at the keys.

    Research shows that giving kids a regular allowance while discussing with them the importance of money makes them more financially responsible as adults. They become, as personal finance expert Evonne Lack succinctly puts it, “less likely to arrive on your doorstep years from now with a duffel bag full of dirty laundry and a mountain of credit card debt.”

    If an allowance is such a great tool for teaching kids money management, at what age should you start giving them one?

    Many parents start at age 8, but experts agree, as Mr. Martin puts it, that it’s the kid’s “aptitude not the age that really matters.” So how do you know if your kids are ready to receive and learn from an allowance? Research shows that they are ready to benefit from an allowance once they have reached certain developmental milestones, like 1) understanding that money can be exchanged for things they want, and 2) they can confidently add and subtract.

    And, here, kids differ widely. While some kids reach these milestones at age 4 or 5, others get there by age 8 or 9. “So if your child tends to shrug at money, losing it before it can find its way to his dusty piggy bank, hold off until you see signs that he enjoys saving it or thinking about how he might use it,” says Mrs. Lack.

    Finally, but not least importantly, what amount should you give your kids?

    Experts agree that, as a rule of thumb, you should give them $1 per year of age on a weekly basis: for example, a six-year-old would receive $6 a week and a ten-year-old $10 a week. The advantage of this approach is that kids get an automatic raise every birthday, eliminating the question of when their allowances will be increased. If you are really lucky, it may even reduce sibling arguments, because the younger kid will understand why the older siblings get more.

    Parents should feel free to deviate from this rule of thumb depending on whether they live in an expensive or inexpensive area, their particular financial situation, how many kids they have, and which regular expenses they or the kids are expected to pay for. As Susan Borowski, the author of “Money Crashers,” puts it, “If a straight $5 or $10 per week (or even per month) makes more sense to you than paying a dollar per year of age, then pay what works for you.”

    If your kids are very mature, you can discuss this issue with them and reach a mutual agreement on a reasonable amount. It’s useful to go through such a process with your kids, says Mr. Martin, because it “helps to develop budgeting skills, teaches responsibility, and prepares them for the realities of personal money management.”

    The allowance shouldn’t be too high. If you give kids too much, they won’t learn how to budget and allocate money because they never get a chance to prioritize among competing spending goals.

    However, the allowance shouldn’t be too high. If you give kids too much, they won’t learn how to budget and allocate money because they never get a chance to prioritize among competing spending goals. Ron Liebler, the author of “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money,” says to “give your kids just enough so that they can get some of what they want but not so much that they don’t have to make a lot of difficult trade-offs. Let them own those, so they know what it’s like to make financial decisions that resemble grown-up ones.”

    Whatever amount you ultimately decide on, make sure to follow a consistent schedule and stick with it – whether weekly or monthly. As child psychologist Dr. Mary Kelly Blakeslee says, “random payments will be frustrating and confusing, and will reduce the opportunity for learning.”

    Editor’s Note: Click Here for insights on how you can help your kids maximize their money management skills.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences & Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College. More

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    That’s a Good Question! Podcast Episode 8: How dangerous is it to use steroids?

    Donald Hooton, Jr.

    The course of your life can change directions in an instant. In July 2003 and in his senior year of college, Donald Hooton, Jr. was preparing to start a career with his business degree. That’s when he got the call from his sister that their 17-year-old brother Taylor had passed away. What shocked their family the most was that Taylor had committed suicide. All of the family had just one question. Why?

    It was the detectives who found the steroids in his room. At that time, the Hooton family didn’t see the connection, but they’ve learned. They’ve learned about steroid use and its psychological effects, and the link to suicide. And they learned the use of steroids is likely far more pervasive than you ever imagined.

    In the midst of their grief, his family could never have predicted how, through their tragedy, they could impact the lives of so many others for the better. Now Donald works every day to honor his brother’s legacy at the helm of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, the nonprofit started by his dad, Don.

    In this important podcast, you’ll hear directly from Donald, Jr., and learn about how he is helping turn his family’s tragedy into triumph for families across the U.S. and abroad.

    Donald thinks about his brother every day. “I hope he’s proud of the work we’re doing and what his legacy has become and how many lives have been saved,” he says. “I hope every time his story is shared it’s making a difference.”

    The Taylor Hooton Foundation is the leader in education on appearance and performance enhancing drugs. To learn more or to schedule an ALL ME® Assembly Program at your child’s school, visit www.taylorhooton.org or www.allmeleague.com. More

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    That’s a Good Question! Podcast: Episode 7

    In this episode, we visit with Dr. Shanna Garza the Clinic Director of Girls to Women and Young Men’s Health and Wellness, an Adolescent Medicine practice in McKinney, Texas.

    Dr. Garza received her B.S. in Biology from Emory University and attended medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. Following her medical education, she completed a Family Medicine residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. She is a board-certified Family Medicine physician with over 13 years of experience working with children, teens and young adults.
    Eating disorders are a health issue Dr. Garza’s clinics contend with on a regular basis.  There are a lot of societal issues impacting the way young people, especially girls, see themselves and judge themselves. Preoccupation with food, body weight, and shape may signal an eating disorder.
    What is the risk of dieting to young people? Is there a difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating? How does social media, diet talk and body shaming lead to eating disorders? 
    Dr. Garza shares important advice for parents to help our kids navigate this very dangerous and even deadly health issue.  More

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    That’s a Good Question! Podcast: Episode 6

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    That’s a Good Question! Podcast: Episode 5

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    Talking So Your Teens Will Listen

    By Tanni Haas, Ph.D. | Contributor
    Every parent of teens knows how difficult it can be to get through to them, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many things parents can do – and a couple of things they shouldn’t do – to get their teens to listen. Here’s what the experts suggest:
    Give Good Reasons
    Teens like to know that their parents are taking them seriously, so if you want them to listen, don’t just state your opinions or tell them what to do. “Tell them why those are the right opinions,” says Rachel Ehmke of the Child Mind Institute. Give good reasons for what you say, and for what you say they should do.
    Allow Time For Processing
    It can take days, even weeks, for teens to process the substance of a conversation, especially an important one. If your teens don’t understand what you say at first give them some time and space to reflect on the conversation before you bring it up again. “You might be surprised how your conversation evolves over time,” clinical psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz says.  
    Rephrase Statements as Questions
    Teens will reflect more and better on what you’re telling them when you rephrase statements as questions instead of commands. “By asking questions,” says Josh Shipp, the author of The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans, “you as a parent are getting your children to think critically on their own.” Try to ask questions that make your teens reflect on the causes and consequences of their actions.

    “Stop talking before your teen tunes out.”

    Keep It Short and Simple
    Keep it short and simple, says therapist Mendi Baron: “If you’re going on and on, your teen is thinking, ‘I got the point already, please STOP.’ So, stop talking before your teen tunes out.” This is difficult advice to follow. As parents, we like to unload whatever is on our minds but doing that can easily backfire.  
    Don’t Lose Your Temper
    Don’t lose your cool, even if your teens are rude or aren’t paying attention to what you’re saying. If you lose your temper, the conversation can escalate into a shouting match. Remember that you’re the adult and should be better able to control your emotions than your teens. Instead of losing your cool, Ms. Ehmke says, “count to ten or take some deep breaths before responding.”
    Don’t Lecture
    “If you lecture,” Mr. Shipp says, “your teen tunes you out. And when that happens, you become the boy who cried wolf. You could have the most pertinent information, but your teen won’t hear a thing you say.” Also, a lecture is a monologue where only you get to talk and not a dialogue between you and your teen where both get to speak.   

    A lecture is a monologue where only you get to talk and not a dialogue between you and your teen where both get to speak.

    Don’t Use Judgmental Language
    “No one likes to feel judged,” says professional counselor Trudy Griffin. “If you come off as critical or judgmental, your teen may shut down.” Try to say what you want to say in as neutral a way as possible. When you “remove judgmental phrases from dialogue with your teen,” Ms. Griffin adds, you’ll be surprised by how much more they’re willing to listen to you.”  
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
    Tanni Haas is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences & Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College. More

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    That’s a Good Question! Podcast: Episode 4

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    That’s a Good Question! Podcast: Episode 3

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