I have had clients who don’t give allowance because they buy kids what they need automatically. Behind every action we do, we are teaching kids beliefs and what we value. If children are always provided for without offering their own money, then they are learning that the world takes care of them and it takes away a chance to learn financial responsibility.
Because I wanted to teach my daughter about using an ATM machine, making, and saving money for what she wanted or needed; I gave her an allowance. When she was old enough to babysit and then old enough to work in a restaurant, the amount of money I gave her changed.
Think about what you feel is your parental duty to provide for your kids and what that would cost a month. Then consider what your kids are wanting beyond the basics. For example, they could want some special toy, to go to the movies, or to get designer shoes that you aren’t willing to pay for. You want the allowance to be enough money where they would need to save some in order to get what they want.
Imagine being at the store and your child says, “I want that game.” It costs $30 which is more than you are willing to pay. So you can say, “I think that’s too much. I’m willing to give you $15 towards it. You’ll need to pay the rest.” Your child responds, “I don’t know if I have enough money.” Then say, “How much do you have? Let’s figure out how much more you need and how you can get that amount.”
Here the child is learning delayed gratification, math, and the ability to feel proud that she paid for part of something she wanted. You have set your financial limit and the child learns how to get their needs met by their own actions rather than relying on you. They may decide that the game isn’t worth it after all or they may save to buy it.
Some parents tell their children that allowance has to be divided up into three parts; savings, donation, and spending as they want. This system teaches very specific values about the use of money.
Some parents have debit accounts for their kids rather than actual money. One downfall of the plastic money is that they don’t learn how to count money because they aren’t physically holding it. One of my client’s daughter would go to the coffee store and buy coffee for her friends until the money ran out. I suggested she carry money so she could see what she had. The mom was worried that her daughter would lose the money. Then, learning how to hold on to money becomes another lesson to learn.
When my daughter was in middle and high school, I would give her money that had to be used towards buying her personal items such as make-up, hair products, and clothing beyond my budget. We had a specific list of what I would buy and what she was responsible for buying. When she started working at a restaurant, she told me that she didn’t need an allowance anymore because she was making her own money now. Wow! I was blown away when she said that.
She saw herself as a wage earner and the allowance was only there until she could support herself. I have never had an issue with her continuing to ask for things. I would state how much I was willing to pay, or not at all, and she knew she had to get the rest. She has always felt proud of her ability to make money and not look to me as her only financial source even in college. The belief she developed about being self-sufficient continues today with her well-paying job as a business analyst.
What do you do concerning an allowance?
©2014 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.