The cute little 7-year-old girl was all smiles when she attempted to lean the chair back on it’s legs and balance without support. As I sprinted across the room to catch her as she fell I heard her mother calmly say (as if in slow motion), “Is that a good choice?” I saw the girl’s smile fade as she realized the risk she was taking and returned the chair to the upright position without falling. Why is it that some moms can naturally (and effectively) coerce their kids into obedience while I feel like every endorphin in my body prompts me to raise my voice, react with passion, and fight the impulse to want to shake my kids into submission when I’m frustrated?!
I think, as parents, we have a tendency to shout to our kids on the playground, “You’re gonna fall!” or “Be careful, honey” when instead we should be asking them, “How do you think it’s going to turn out if you climb over that jungle gym without holding on tight?” or, “What’s your next move, honey?” How does cautioning them not to fall get them to think logically about consequences and problem-solving? I had an older client tell me recently that her only parenting regret was that she wished she had trusted her kids more while they were at home. She said she wished she had let them fail while they were in a safe and loving environment instead of when they were out of the house in their 20s when the lessons were much harder and more detrimental to their future. Whether we’re teaching them how to manage money or how to navigate life, I think the question, “Is that a good choice?” is one that I’m going to add to my daily repertoire.
But isn’t that a question we should be asking ourselves daily as well? Most often, my clients struggle with poor purchasing behavior. I do the same. But I’m finding that when I change the conversation in my head, I make decisions based on black and white facts and circumstances instead of emotional impulses. I recently wrote the words, “Is this a wise purchase” on a post-it note and stuck it in my wallet. Now every time I go to swipe my card, I’m faced with a decision. It’s a small way I’m trying to hold myself accountable for small choices that could negatively impact my bigger goals. It’s a little reminder that I need to think about consequences and how the purchase will affect my next move.
What are you doing to hold yourself accountable? I’m curious to hear your ideas!
Valerie Leonard is an award-winning financial advisor and co-founder of Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial, a highly-regarded Birmingham-based financial advisory firm. Her mission is to help people be the best they can be and make the most of their financial resources by offering a better and easier way to manage their money and time. She specializes in offering financial advice, investment management, insurance, and more.
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