Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughts on Parenting: Allowance

Nicole is turning three soon and I started to think about allowance. Right now, she doesn't get an allowance. She gets spare change that we find around and puts it in her piggy bank that we used to use as an incentive system for eating. The pig stopped working as incentive, so now she just puts money in it when she finds it, but she never takes the money out and certainly doesn't spend it.

Here is what I figure... We give Nicole everything that she needs: food, snacks, clothes, toys, and entertainment. Why would a three year old need to purchase things above and beyond what I am already providing her. She has everything she needs, and she gets a lot of the things she wants because I think we spoil her a little too much, what else would she really get? Does she really need an allowance yet?

When I was a kid, I got $5 a month for allowance. I would earn this allowance by doing a weekly chore that rotated among the seven of us kids and I was required to clean my room and do my laundry. With 7 kids, my mom couldn't be doing all the laundry for us. I think I learned to do laundry as soon as I was tall enough to put it in the washer. Like 9 years old or something.

Now a days, kids are getting a weekly or even daily rate of allowance. I realize that there is inflation and perhaps the times have changed and I'm just being a fuddy duddy, but really, what can the kid possibly need that they don't already have provided for them? Do 8 year olds really need to be making $30 dollars a month?

When I was a kid, Johnny and Sarah would get their allowance, take out tithing and immediately walk to the local store or pharmacy and spend all of the money on candy and soda. I don't want Nicoley spending her money on sweets and junk food. She doesn't even get candy unless it is a holiday. We do not keep candy in the house. She gets snacks like granola bars, juice boxes and goldfish crackers, but she is already doomed with bad teeth, she doesn't need candy.

I remember being a kid... well, I remember being 9 years old, don't ask me to remember before that, it was too long ago. And, I remember wanting candy and sweets and useless toys that I would get sick of in three seconds, but being a parent changes my perspective. I want Nicoley and Dan to crave experiences... not just instant gratification.

If I started Nicoley on an allowance, I think I would direct her to what she was saving up to... like a trip to the Discovery Museum, or a day at Kangaroo Zoo. Then, she would learn that those things cost money and she earned that experience. Maybe I am living in a fantasy world of what Nicoley should be and want that doesn't exist... but, she is only 3... so I can dream.

Right now, we have a sticker chart reward system that seems to be working really well. She gets stickers when she is a Kind Friend, a Good Sharer, a Good Eater, a Good Helper, and a Good Listener. Those are the things we are really working on right now and her reward is a sticker on her chart. We have told her that when she finishes her chart, she will get a new play cellphone since her last one broke. I feel like this reward system works for right now and she really works hard towards those stickers. She sometimes asks what she can do to get another sticker on her chart, so I find things for her to help with to earn a sticker. This is similar to allowance right? Because allowance is... or should be just a reward system right?

I think that for now, Nicole (and Dan when he is ready) will stick with the sticker chart reward and we will forgo allowance for a couple more years. She doesn't even understand what money is or what it means yet and I think I will put that lesson off for now.

Yesterday, Nicole asked Matt, "Where is Mommy?"
Matt responded, "She's at work making money."
Nicole replied, "With paper?"
Matt, "... Yes."

That is how little she understands about money. I think I will keep her innocence for right now.


Sarah said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmm...candy. Such a good way to use my money. I definitely didn't get $5 a month until I was about 7 or 8 though. Before that I believe it was $1 a month. $.90 Did not get me much candy, believe you me. Rewards systems are good. It teaches children how to work for something.

Jasmine said...

I never had an allowance growing up. My mom would pay us to do extra chores during the summer (like a dime for picking a few cups of raspberries or something), but never anything regular. I really don't agree with kids getting a set allowance regardless of if they do their chores or not. What does that teach them? I like your idea of having her save her money towards a certain experience. I might steal that idea.