3 Allowance Mistakes to Avoid (Part 1)
Posted by Gail | Filed under Kids & Money
Isn’t it funny how most people have no problem doling out money to their kids. But when it comes to what we should require of our children in exchange for all that dough, the debate rages. Some people like the idea of an allowance that has no strings attached. Others think any money a kid gets it’s grubby little hands on should be earned. We tie money to behaviour. We tie it to grades. We tie it to chores.
From early on children receive mixed messages about money. They watch us spend money in so many forms and for so many reasons they form their own twisted and delusional ideas about the purpose and use of money. And if mom and dad are fighting about money, well, that brings it’s own lessons. They’re eager to soak up any direction a parent will give in terms of the role money will play in their lives. And if you point them in the wrong direction, they won’t know. They’ll just follow your directions to money hell.
Mistake #1: If you don’t smarten up, I’ll cut off your allowance! Money doesn’t work as a reward for good behaviour. Just ask any of the management theorists who have proven that money is not a motivator for adults. So why should it be for children? Good behaviour is based on an understanding of right and wrong, thoughtfulness, caring and consideration, along with myriad other positive attributes, all of which have to be internalized. When you tie money to behaviour you’re sending the message that compliance is the way to get money. All well and good if you want your little ant to know her place in the corporate hierarchy later on. But if you want a child who grows to be a confident and creative adult, compliance isn’t the lesson you want to teach at home. And money shouldn’t be your two-by-four.
Mistake #2: I’ll give you $20 for every A you get on your report card. Good grades are your child’s responsibility. School is his primary job, and good grades are an indication that he is doing his job well. If you provide financial reward for good grades, you are externalizing the reward. Instead, the reward should be internalized: the self-esteem and pride that accompanies having done well.