One of the earliest battles parents have with young children is the battle of ownership. The cries of “me, my, mine” may be carrying through your house on a daily basis now. If not, step into a room of multiple toddlers and it won’t take long before you hear the phrase, “No! That’s mine!” And while we may get a little more discreet or tactful in our outward expression of selfishness as we get older, much of the time, the heart attitude remains the same.

So how do we teach our own children to be good stewards as we ourselves are trying to become one?

Well, it all comes down to ownership. God wants us to recognize that we are managers, not owners, of all we have. He has entrusted resources, relationships, time, and money to us, and He desires that we are faithful in the way we manage it.

The biggest lessons in life are generally caught, not taught. Resolve to live as a steward, and your children will inevitably learn how to do the same. It will take intentional conversations and lessons, but they’ll know what a steward looks like.

Teach them how to work.

Work is good! It was always part of God’s plan for man to work – He gave Adam charge over the garden before the fall of man. Help your children understand that we were created to work and that it is a blessing. Help them discover the skills and talents God has given them. Excellence and diligence combined with humility will equip your child to become salt and light in the workplace.

Give them “jobs” now – chores around the house will teach them responsibility. Try having two categories of responsibilities – everyday, unpaid expectations, and special, paid job opportunities.

Come home thankful for your job every day. Talk to your kids about the blessing of earning an income and working to provide for them. Even on the frustrating days, be disciplined to thank God for your job and teach your children to do the same.

Teach them how to give.

This is the best way to protect your child from becoming materialistic. Generosity will bring your child priceless joy and prepare them for supporting God’s work in their generation.

Help them set up a plan for giving their first 10% as part of their budget. They can also develop a generosity fund for giving above and beyond a regular tithe. Generosity may or may not come easily for your child – focus on the principles that will best teach your child God’s intent for generosity.

Remind your kids that generosity isn’t always about money. They can be generous with their time, their words, and their talents as well. Be sure to show your children that you don’t have to have a lot of money in order to be generous.

Teach them how to save.

Delayed gratification is possibly the best lesson your children can learn when it comes to wise money management. Once they have given their first 10% from their chore earnings, teach them to save 50%. Talk to them about the difference between saving money and hoarding it. Read Matthew 6:19-21 with them and explain what treasures in heaven mean. Not only will this get them in a great habit, but it will build their savings from a young age. If they want a new game or app, make them wait to purchase it until they have enough money to pay cash for it. You’ll instill in them a great work ethic and discipline to avoid debt.

Teach them how to spend.

The remaining 40% of their chore earnings are for them to spend….wisely. Talk to your child about the importance of tracking their spending and following a budget. Warn them of the dangers and traps of using credit cards, and openly talk to them about the sacrifices you make to stay on track. Call out phony ads or manipulative sales to help them navigate scenarios in the real world.

Remind them to do everything with excellence, diligence and humility.

Get the conversation about money started with Raising Money-Wise Kids. It’s full of practical ways for you to teach your kids biblical principles with stories and activities. They’ll love it and it takes pressure off of you!