But as the years go by, those sweets and comics can easily become game consoles and mobile phones. Before you know it, they’re asking to borrow the car and emptying your pockets of all your hard-earned cash.
That is, unless you equip them with the financial facts of life. Because in the real world, material things won’t come without hard work and savings.
Show your love by teaching them the value of money, so they can make their own choices and live by them.
Talk money matters as they grow
It’s never too early. Once they can count, they will understand simple facts about how money works. Observation and repetition are important ways children learn.
My boys are five and three, but readily accept that Mummy “doesn’t have the pennies” to buy them unlimited treats.
We discuss why Mummy and Daddy work, how we pay for the house and food, and how it isn’t always wise to buy treats if we want to enjoy birthday parties and holidays.
They may want it – but do they need it?
In our house those meddling kids of Mystery Incorporated are an obsession. But much as my sons insist they “need” that Scooby Doo action figure or DVD, I explain they don’t.
They may want or wish for them – but they can survive without them. The grocery and heating bills must be paid. I remind them of the difference, and don’t always give in.
Set them savings goals
That’s not to say a toy can’t become the object of a goal-setting session. Show your child how to save pocket money, or complete chores to earn enough to buy it.
Demonstrate the concept of earning interest. Take them to open a bank account. Or start filling a moneybox, and consider matching what they save.
Give pocket money in denominations which encourage saving. For example, £5 can be given in pound coins so your child can set one or two aside before spending the rest.
Learn on shopping trips
Going to the supermarket is a child’s first spending experience. About a third of our take-home pay is spent on groceries.
Make a list together beforehand, and set a budget.
Once in the store, get your child to find items which are the cheapest or best value. Take a calculator and make sure the shopping fits the budget.
Let them make spending decisions
Good or bad, children will learn from buying. Encourage common sense by doing research before making major purchases.
When they want something, give examples of at least three other things they could use the money for. But ultimately, let them decide.
Plastic isn’t always fantastic
When using a credit card or cheque book, discuss how credit works. These might seem like pretend money, but explain the bill still has to be paid.
Discuss finances regularly
Sit down regularly and discuss money matters. With teenagers, it’s also useful to talk about the national and local economies.
All of this information will be important as they take on more responsibility for their own financial well-being.