Cameron C. Taylor wrote a book entitled 8 Attributes of Great Achievers which examines the lives of famous individuals throughout history and what attributes they shared to help make them successful in life. The most important attribute was their ability to accept responsibility for the choices they made in life. According to Cameron, "With each choice comes a consequence. No amount of rationalizing or complaining will alter the consequence. If you pick up one end of a stick (choice), you also pick up the other end of the stick (consequence of that choice)." If you choose to purchase an item that you cannot afford instead of saving for it, you will incur debt and interest payments. If an emergency arises shortly after, you may not have the ability to pay for it. Studying hard for an exam means you won't have as much time to spend with friends, but the result is a higher grade. That higher grade might lead to a college scholarship.
Gary Ryan Blair, aka "The Goals Guy" states "Every choice carries a consequence. For better or worse, each choice is the unavoidable consequence of its predecessor." Helping children to understand this when they are young will help shape them when they are adults. “Learning what to choose, and how to choose, may be the most important education you will ever receive,” states Dr. Shad Helmstetter in his book titled Choices. “No one else can ever make your choices for you. Your choices are yours alone. They are as much a part of you as every breath you will take, every moment of your life.”
Each day we must make tradeoffs. One choice may not necessarily be better than the other, but will carry with it different consequences. As parents, we need to help guide our children, but let them make the final decision and accept the consequences that go with it. These consequences are lessons learned that will make our children stronger. Just like learning to walk, a child will fall many times, but each time is a learning experience on the way to walking without any support or help. Money lessons for kids are no different. While the stakes are small, allow your child to fail. Let them learn from and take responsibility their choices. Winston Churchill stated it best when he said "the price of greatness is responsibility."
The "Ben Franklin Balance Sheet" is a very effective means to help make those difficult decisions. It is often taught in sales courses as a tool to help close a sale, but it works just as effectively when trying to make a yes or no decision in your own life. How it works is you take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns and list all the reasons why you should do something in one column and all the reasons why you shouldn't do it in the other. Once completed, one column will usually have more reasons than the other, giving you a quick visual cue as to a direction to lean. Use this tool with your kids the next time they want to make a purchase.
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