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Wednesday, June 01, 2011
The Pocket Money Dilemma
The conversation was prompted by my reading Nicole's book Planning With Kids at the cafe table. (Sorry - I'm probably going to bang on about her book for a while to come yet, because I'm really picking up some great tips in Nicole's book. If you haven't purchased it yet...DO IT NOW.)
One of the mums asked me about the book, and when explaining the number of subjects Nicole covers, I happened to show her the list of age appropriate household chores that Nicole lists in the book, which took us on to the subject of chores and pocket money.
The first part of our conversation centered around what chores we pay pocket money for. One of the mothers has recently requested her child remove items from her school bag, place her lunch box in the kitchen, put clothes away etc and has agreed to pay her daughter a set amount each week to do this. Should her child misbehave, she plans to essentially create a fine system - the amount of the fine being deducted from her daughter's pocket money.
The other mother, in response to this, told us about a chat with a child psychologist she had once, who advised children should not be paid pocket money to do chores around the home. She believes (as do I) that certain chores around the home should be carried out regardless of whether money is attached to them or not.
Currently, we have a list of chores (although very vague, and not written up anywhere) that the kids are required to do, but not paid for (keep bedrooms tidy, take up plates/bowls etc after eating, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket etc) and we put in place a list of chores by which they could earn money. For example:
* The 4yo took on the responsibility of ensuring old toilet rolls were replaced in our two bathrooms when required.
* The 7yo was collecting the, er, dog's 'business'. (His suggestion, not ours!)
* The 9yo was responsible for ensuring all recycling was removed each week and placed in the recycling bin outside.
Depending on the job, a certain amount was paid. (It will probably come as no surprise to you that the dog's business was the highest paid job of all three.) And they were allowed to spend their pocket money on pretty much anything they liked, except food. (ie No lollies!)
Here's the problem: Not surprisingly, the 7yo tired from his extra paid job (can you blame him?), the 4yo got bored with stacking toilet paper and declared when told he wouldn't be paid, "I don't care!" and the 9yo had to be asked several times a week to remove the recycling - something I got terribly bored with doing.
I had always told the boys that if they didn't carry out their required jobs, they would not be paid for the other jobs they took on...and, as you can imagine, it all got rather confusing.
Suddenly, not only were they not carrying out their required jobs OR paid jobs consistently - having decided they didn't want to do them and were even willing to forgo the payment to not have to do any of their jobs - but every time I'd ask them to do something outside the list of chores, the first question out of their mouth was, "How much are you going to pay me to do that?"
I don't want my boys to grow up with a sense that they don't have to do something if they don't get paid for it. But then again, there are some tasks I may ask my children to carry out that I think warrants some extra cash. As the mother who had spoken to the child psychologist said, "I don't think my child should have to wash my car. That should be a paid job." I agree.
As Nicole states in her book, some parents (like herself) pay their children a small amount of money, but then pay for things such as kids' trips out with friends and the occasional treat from the school canteen. Some parents choose to pay a higher amount, then have their child pay for such items themselves. (Nicole notes in her book that now her son is in secondary school, they may look at taking this second approach with him.)
The money that Nicole gives her children is not related to the chores her kids carry out around the home. As Nicole explains, she believes pocket money is a way to teach her kids the value of money, decision making, how to save etc, which is something I believe wholeheartedly in as well. (When I was old enough to receive some government funding for my schooling, I was required to pay for any school items out of that - it wasn't a cash bonus to use as I liked - and as soon as I commenced working, I was required to pay my parents board - both of which I'm glad my parents made me do.)
So through reading Nicole's book, and in conjunction with my conversation with the other mothers this morning, I have decided to do the following:
1. Put together an actual list of age appropriate chores that my children will be required to carry out.
2. I will pay them a small (also age appropriate) amount of pocket money, which will be unrelated to their chores.
3. I will give them the opportunity to earn extra money from taking on additional chores should they wish to. For example, washing the dog, the car etc. (Which I also plan to make a list of to avoid being asked if I'll pay them money to, say, open the back door for the dog. Sheesh.)
4. If their chores are not carried out, then they will lose privileges. Like, for example, playing their Nintendo DS, the Wii, watching tv, having friends for play dates etc.
5. My school age children will be responsible for certain school fundraiser donations. As they go to a Catholic school, often there is some fundraiser for one thing or another planned by the kids that require a 'gold coin' donation etc. I have decided, when putting together what I feel is the appropriate amount of pocket money for each child (which I'll decide in conjunction with Hubby!), that they can allocate the minimal amount required of their own money towards these fundraisers, and will be given the option to take on additional chores to earn more money if they want to donate a higher amount - rather than ask me for it! (They have actually donated their own money in the past though, so I don't think this will be an issue at all.)
So, there's my plan. What do you think? Am I on the right track?
Do you pay your kids pocket money? Is it related to chores carried out? Got any great tips to share in relation to children's chores and/or pocket money?
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