These days, kids have a tendency to believe that they're entitled to an enormous amount of money as part of their allowance, whether they actually do anything to earn it or not. It's a sad situation that is in fact the by-product of people who were brought up with a sense of entitlement as opposed to being brought up that it was necessary to work for things they wanted. The good news is that many parents are trying to change this and instill a better work ethic in their children. This means that they have to teach them not only about putting in a hard day's work, but also about managing money. This can all be done by understanding when it's appropriate to give a child an allowance and how much should be given.
The most important thing to remember is that very young children don't really need an allowance. There's no point in giving someone that's only three or four years old an allowance. However, when that child becomes seven or eight years old, a small allowance can go a long way towards helping them understand the value of a dollar. That doesn't mean that you have to break the bank in order to give them a proper allowance. Children that are this young don't need more than a few dollars a week. For example, you might decide to set the bar at $5 a week for a child that has just turned eight years old. In return for that $5 a week, they have to do certain things in order to earn it. If they have a pet, it can become their responsibility to feed and water that pet as well as walking and brushing them. They can also help around the house with simple chores like setting the table for dinner or taking out the trash.
As the child grows older, it's appropriate to increase the allowance within a reasonable amount, but the workload has to increase as well. For instance, a 12 year old child might get as much as $20 a week, but it's imperative that they do more work in order to earn that amount of money. A child this age is more than capable of taking care of basic household cleaning duties such as vacuuming, dusting and tidying up. They're also old enough to mow the yard and help out with any special projects that you might have going on. At this point, it becomes important that you sit down with your child and discuss the amount of money that will be paid and what is expected of them on their part. Make it clear that you're not just handing out money whether they do anything to earn it or not. It's imperative that they understand that they have to earn the money in order to get the allowance. If they choose not to do the work, then they need to learn to do without the allowance.
Things might get a little more complicated as your child gets older and becomes a teenager. By the time that he or she is 16 years old, there's really no reason why your child can't hold down a part-time job. In this particular instance, it seems silly to pay an allowance in addition to their own income. The thing you don't want to do is reward them for work they haven't completed, nor do you want to get them accustomed to having more money than they should realistically have at that age, as it creates bad spending habits That can easily follow them into adulthood. Therefore, you might want to have a discussion with them when they're old enough to have that part-time job and let them know that you'll no longer be paying an allowance because they're old enough to start figuring out how to finance their own activities.
Of course, not every parent is going to agree with this method and most children probably won't agree with it, either. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to instill good values in your child and help them understand that being financially stable as an adult starts early on. They have to develop good spending habits and understand that hard work is required in order to get that cash they so desperately want. The truth is, giving them less than they want is a great way to teach them how to save money and refrain from frivolous spending. Simply giving them a handout teaches them all the wrong lessons and sooner or later, they will have to learn the hard way.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker