How to Teach Children with ADHD to Manage Money
To help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) learn money management skills, it is essential to start early. Since personal finance requires a lot of executive function skills like planning, organizing, decision-making, time management, and focus, it can be tough for children with ADHD to learn how to manage their money.
Why is managing money difficult with ADHD?
Money management can be difficult for any person, but it can be especially challenging for people with ADHD. ADHD presents in kids in different ways. For example, some kids with ADHD may be more impulsive and have trouble delaying gratification. Or they may be more inattentive and distractible, making it harder for them to focus on learning the financial skills they will need as adults.
As children with ADHD get older, they may also have trouble planning and organizing their finances, resulting in missed payments, missed opportunities, and potentially financial chaos. Kids with ADHD may need help developing skills for managing money, such as setting goals, budgeting, and tracking expenses that work for them.
Parents can play a crucial role in helping their kids learn these skills by providing guidance and teaching them how to handle money responsibly while they are still young.
How to teach money management to kids with ADHD?
Not all children with ADHD are the same. So it is essential to find what works best for your child.
- Ensure your child knows basic money identification and the function of money.
- Give them a chance to practice using money while at home.
- Use visuals to help them see their savings grow.
- Keep it fun and interesting
- Use tools and resources that mimic the tools adults use
For children with ADHD, it is about learning the habits of good financial wellness and the systems, tools, and processes they can implement to help them reach their goals.
Creating visuals for your child
I am a big fan of the three jars method of allowances. But I do not think that goes far enough visually to demonstrate savings for a child with ADHD.
Suppose your child wanted to save for something. Take a picture of the thing they are saving and stick the picture where they can see it every day.
Use the paper clip method – String paper clips together every time they save $1, $5, or $10. Hang the paper clips on a hook and draw a line to indicate how many paperclips they will need to reach their goal (Credit to Atomic Habits)
Fundraising thermometer – Print out a blank fundraising thermometer. Divide the savings goal into equal increments and have your child color in the thermometer until they reach their goal.
Keep it interesting
Games can be a great way to learn new skills. Similarly, apps can help take some of the burden of executive functioning from managing money while also being fun. So let’s use all our resources to keep the learning exciting and engaging.
Gamify – Make learning fun and interesting. Online money-related board games can be a great way to keep your child interested in financial literacy.
Automations and Finance Apps – Money management apps can make it easier to use automation and visually represent their money. Allowance apps and money management will also allow them to see how setting goals and using automation can help them reach their goals faster.
A note on allowance apps – Many allowance apps include some form of payment for chore management. I don’t like using allowances to incentive chores because of the pay-for-chore trap. But if the app you chose can help as a chore reminder for your child, I’m not against it.
Give them a chance to practice – Allowances
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Allowances allow your child to practice using money in a safe environment where you can help coach and advise them. But only you will know the best way to make that happen.
Give them cash – Cash has the benefit of being tangible. It is easy to see how much money you have when dealing with cash. But it can also be harder to keep track of and is easy to spend and lose.
Prepaid Debit Cards – Early debit cards mimic what most adults use when managing money. Online banking and early banking apps can help children learn how to track spending, build budgets and use automation to reach savings goals. But when managing money digitally, it can be challenging to remember how much you have and avoid overspending when you can only see your balance when you seek it.
Develop Spending plans – Help your children plan out their spending. Have them determine a target or goal and use the visualization techniques above to help them reach it. Show them that small steps toward achieving a goal can be rewarding.
Use Reminders – If you give an allowance, have them set an alarm to remind you when to pay them their allowance. Reminders are a great way to remove the burden of remembering to do a task. This will be a skill children with ADHD can use when they become adults.
What I want more than anything else is to help prepare children with ADHD to manage money successfully once they are on their own. The best way to do this is to
- Teach them the value of properly managing their money.
- Give them chances to manage money while they are at home
- Help them build systems that will mimic the systems they will need to utilize when they are an adult
Help your children learn sound financial literacy principles and how to use systems to manage their money. They will be well prepared for the years ahead if you do both.