Pocket Money Pitfalls – A Disincentive For Help With The Chores?

By Guest Contributor Dakota Murphey

Pocket Money Pitfalls – A Disincentive For Help With The Chores?

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There are plenty of good reasons why parents decide to give their children pocket money. For lots of parents it’s a bargaining tool for getting children to help with the daily chores. But why should kids get financial remuneration for household chores when we as parents don’t? What message exactly is that sending? Paying our kids to help around the house may seem like a good idea, but is it actually teaching them not to do chores unless they are paid? And if you’re in the same situation as me, you’ll know that it doesn’t always work.

I’m sharing with your some of my ideas about pocket money, why it falls short in the scheme of rewards, and an alternative view on what pocket money can teach our darlings.

Pocket Money For Chores – Is It Sending The Right Message?

It seems like a reasonable idea – to give pocket money in exchange for some help around the house. Gee-ing up your lazy teenagers to make some contribution to the household can feel like a mammoth task. Using pocket money to entice your children away from their mobile devices to help around the house seems like a cunning plan, and for some of the time it seems to pay off.

No-one can deny the importance of teaching our children life skills. Most parents want their children to grow up with some idea of how to look after themselves. Watching our babes ditch the gothic haircuts and crawl out of the other side of adolescence with an air of domestic helplessness isn’t quite what most of us parents have planned. Following on from behaviour charts and treats, it’s easy to see how monetary rewards become the teenage currency. There’s no doubt rewards can be used effectively to manage behaviour and acknowledge accomplishments. We all know it works … some of the time.

But, is paying kids to do chores sending the right message? Some experts argue that monetary incentives actually demotivate youngsters and prevent them from developing a sense of responsibility. And, if your adolescent has spent his/her childhood being paid to do chores, how will they feel about doing their own household chores when they first leave home?

There’s also a school of thought suggesting that labelling chores with a financial value makes them out to be more of a big deal than they are. Household chores are after all a part of everyday life. Surely, contributing to family life should be taught with a healthy respect for mutual concern and shared responsibility, and not as a means to make money.

How To Get Kids Helping Without A Price Tag

Pocket Money Pitfalls – A Disincentive For Help With The Chores?
  1. Getting your children to help around the house should start when they are toddlers. Younger children like nothing more than helping mummy or daddy. It’s a much more difficult task getting teenagers to contribute if they’re new to the idea of helping out.
  2. Being clear about the task and demonstrating exactly what needs to be done will help them to feel confident about doing the job in hand. Rosters and visible prompts are also helpful reminders of what needs to be done.
  3. Using co-operation and compliance as a lever works better than paying teenagers. Making a chore a condition for agreeing to a teenagers request is a great incentive and teaches co-operation.
  4. Being consistent about what chores are important matters. If a child sees that sometimes a chore is important and other times parents can’t be bothered, they’ll quickly choose to hear that it’s not important. Lead by example.
  5. Negotiating when chores are carried out can be one way of giving a sense of independence to children when they are faced with a list of chores.
  6. Showing appreciation for your child’s contribution to the chores is also important. We all know it’s not motivating to feel taken for granted.

Pocket Money – What Can It Teach Our Children, Especially Our Teenagers?

Pocket Money Pitfalls – A Disincentive For Help With The Chores?

Pocket money or some sort of allowance is for most families the norm. Whether paid weekly or monthly as an allowance, or even as a reward for chores, there’s no doubt that getting children to learn about managing money is a good idea. It’s one of the many life skills they’ll need when they fly the nest.

  • Trust - trusting teenagers with money is part of their journey to independence. You may want to add travel and clothing costs to their allowance.
  • Budgeting - paying your children a monthly allowance directly into their bank account can be a great way to teach them all about budgeting. They may well blow their first monthly allowance in one exuberant trip to the shops, but as long as you’ve explained ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone’ and don’t cave in by giving them a top up, they’ll soon learn to budget or have to suffer the disappointment of going without.
  • Saving – while the tendency for kids to spend all of their money in one fail swoop is often tempting, once children have a sense of having used it all up too quickly, they are usually more open to the idea of saving. Let your child make mistakes. Sometimes the best lessons come from poor decisions. You can encourage saving by having a money box (younger children) or a savings account (older children).

Dakota Murphey; BA (Hons) Marketing graduate, working alongside technology-led finance broker Solution Loans. When she's not running around after her two kids, you’ll find her relaxing in a nearby coffee shop, watching the world pass her by. If you enjoyed this article, see what else she's been up to on Twitter - @Dakota_Murphey.

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