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Allowance Can Teach Values and Responsibility

Most parents don’t recognize the powerful tool allowance can be to teach children family values. The appropriate use of household responsibilities and allowance can help ameliorate a child’s ever-increasing exposure to material­ism, self-centeredness and immediate gratification.


When to Start

Allowance can start when a child enters kindergarten. The amount depends on the child’s age, what the money will be used for and the economic status of the family. Parents should always err on the side of frugality in this age of entitle­ment and materialism. For a 5-year-old, a dollar a week is reasonable. For a teenager, $20 to $30 a week is fair, espe­cially if they use the money for school lunch and personal entertainment.


Should Allowance Be Tied to Chores?

Parents often ask me if allowance should be tied to chores. This depends on whether the family is capitalistic or socialistic. If they are capitalists, children should be paid for completing specific chores in the house, both personal (cleaning their bedroom) and family-oriented (cleaning up dinner dishes).

If parents are socialists, children should be expected to contribute to the family based on their capability, and they will receive allowance based on their needs.

However, like most modern national economies, families can utilize a "mixed economy," whereby some chores are expected (keeping their bedroom clean) and others are tied to allowance (cleaning up dinner dishes).


Spending Allowance

What a child does with their allowance also teaches crucial values. Parents should divide a child’s allowance into three areas:

POCKET MONEY: By letting kids spend when and how they choose teaches decision-making, judgment, prioritizing and the value of money.

LONG–TERM SAVING: This teaches delay of gratification and the ability to wait for something, which is associated with future academic achievement and financial stability.

GIVING TO OTHERS: Having kids donate money to charity or spend their own money on gifts for others reinforces empathy.


The Importance of Chores

It's necessary for parents to explain to children the purpose of chores, whether tied to allowance or not. Parents don’t ask kids to do chores to make their lives easier. After all, parents know that it’s a lot easier to do the work themselves rather than to make sure their child does it.

Children learn most things by parental modeling. However, if parents do everything for their kids, children do not learn to give back… they learn to take. Children must be taught to give to others and to become independent. One way to accomplish this is through doing chores.

Chores teach kids to contribute to the family. Empathy is also reinforced by doing something for others. They also learn how to do necessary things that are not immediately gratifying. To be successful, parents should clearly delineate and monitor chores for completion.

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