Thursday, 18 October 2012

Pocket money - how not to do it

I think letting my kids practice handling money is good for many, many reasons. But I got it wrong the first time we tried it.

When my son was about 5, we started giving pocket money for chores. We gave a penny for this, five pence for that, and so on.  We had about three things he was supposed to do every day, and a couple of weekly things.

Don't do this, is my advice.

  • First, we should have waited until he could add properly and consistently.  Kids can't always add up brilliantly at age 5.  This makes the whole concept of money just hard for them.

  • Also, at age 5 some children find it hard to make decisions and then live with the consequences.  Yes, pocket money will teach them this skill, but it would have made it all a lot less stressful if we had just waited until he was more able to make choices.  

  • The whole 'rewarding children for chores they should be doing anyway' is a fraught area. We should have avoided it by just not linking them (but, honestly, we do help them learn good household habits in other ways). 

  • When they are little, sometimes they can't do their chores for lots of reasons that are not in their control.  They might be sick, we might have all got up late and be in a rush, or we might not have time at the weekend to let him wipe the windows or run the hoover round because we have something fun planned.  Helping children with these chores takes time, and adding this in as an expectation every day or every week, because of the link with pocket money, was a mistake for us.  

So, we had to let that go after a while.   Find out tomorrow how we saved the situation.

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