Family Life, Parenting

Financial Lessons – Risk vs. Rewards 

March 1, 2021 

Teaching your child everyday concepts will lay the groundwork for financial understanding. 

One topic you’ll cover with your kids through the years is the link between risks and rewards. As adults, we automatically think about investing when we hear these two words together. But I bet the first time you learned this concept was when you were young and that it had very little to do with money. 

When I teach financial concepts to 5th graders, the unit on investing is probably my favorite one. Not just because of the financial concepts, but also how I tie them to everyday events. Tying risks and rewards to what happens in a child’s everyday life will help them understand and internalize the information much more quickly.   

Among the different concepts I use are these:   


Risk or Reward 

Wearing a helmet when you ride a bike 

Don’t hurt your head if you fall off 

Looking both ways when you cross the street 

Don’t get hit by a car 

Doing your homework 

Get good grades 

Listening to your parents 

Don’t get in trouble 

Go to bed on time 

Not tired the next day 

Eat all your breakfast and lunch 

You’re not hungry at school 

Bottom line: If your child understands risks vs. rewards in their everyday life, there will be a smoother transition when you start talking to them about finances. Keep in mind as you introduce these concepts that you know your child’s learning style and adaptability better than anyone, so adjust the lesson accordingly. 

These are ways you can introduce and reinforce risks vs. rewards concepts as they relate to finances:  

Use images to teach these concepts, such as the “Tips for Teens” pyramid, below. Many useful resources are available online that demonstrate risks and rewards for different types of financial accounts. 

Image courtesy of 

It’s just as important to have an organized plan for discussing risks and rewards with your children as it is to know when to have an impromptu discussion. My grandson has already picked up on when I’m trying to have a teaching moment with him; sometimes he’s open to it, sometimes he’s not. It’s up to me to figure that out so that he has fun learning, and, maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to do the same thing later with his grandkids. 

Robert Baer is a Vice President at Fidelity Bank. He coordinates Fidelity’s Financial Literacy initiative.   

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