Ever learn a valuable lesson about money, but wish you knew about it sooner? Pass it on to your children!

University of Cambridge researchers say children’s money habits are formed by the age of 7.

And those habits aren’t just about what to spend and what to save.

Teaching our children to be responsible with money is smart, but showing them how to be mindful of it is equally as important. The way they view money affects their sense of self-worth and ability to make decisions.

Start With Awareness

You don’t have to tell a child how much money you do or don’t have when they want something. Instead, let them know when you are — and are not — out shopping for them. Otherwise, they’ll want something each time you go into a store. Talk about the difference between wants and needs.

When children are older, you can start to encourage them to view spending as a choice. You can also focus more on saving, especially when they realize what things like cars and college run these days. The goal is to make kids aware of what they have, what they don’t, and what they will and will not receive. You can also help them set goals based on what they’re aware of to this point.

Remember that being mindful about money can include the way you teach them to manage this resource, and leading by example, so children can see how you manage your own income. For example, don’t let your child see you splurging on something expensive that you can’t afford. Perhaps something to avoid doing all together!

Reward In Other Ways

Dr. Fran Walfish, a California-based psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, noted that rewards and incentives should not always revolve around money.

“Teach the proper values to your kids,” Walfish told The Stir. “Materialism should not be reinforced as the ultimate goal the way it’s perpetuated in our culture, media, and advertising. It’s much better to teach human kindness.” Doing an activity with someone special is a better reward, she said.

Be Smart With Money

For children who do have savings money at their disposal, parents should enforce that they not take it to school.

“It gets lost, stolen, or bartered and traded for a toy or rare sports card,” she told LiveLeadPlay.com.

Talking about how to establish self-esteem with ways, other than using money, can help teach the lesson.

“Self-esteem is rooted in the way we feel about ourselves,” she said. “The best way to feel good about oneself is by the way we treat other people with kindness and generosity.  When we give of ourselves, we’re the beneficiaries.”

As you can see, mindful money habits extend beyond the shiny penny in the piggy bank. And it all adds up — the savings account, the ownership and responsibility, and the confidence in one’s self.

Parent tested…kid approved.