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Giving Kids an Allowance

Giving Kids an Allowance

I have a group of girlfriends I regularly go on long walks with. We talk about all sorts of things – mostly town politics or developments in town, what our plans will be for the weekend and occasionally work. We actually don’t talk too much about our husbands or our kids. Although the sometimes the discussion includes what’s happening on the bus, teachers gifts or school happenings. On a recent walk however, allowance came up. Allowance has been something I’ve really struggled with for years.

Growing up, I received an allowance for doing things like setting the table, emptying the trash, doing the dishes. But I’m pretty sure there was never any long term consistency on my allowance. Eventually, when I was 13 and really needed money, I started a babysitting business with a friend. (I’m sure I still have our original flyer we created and am pretty sure we charged $3.00 an hour for 1 kid and $.50 for each additional child.) My point though is that I got an allowance for doing chores.

A few years ago, I introduced the chore chart with my kids, but frankly, it was hard to keep up with and before I knew it, they were claiming to do things they didn’t and fighting over who was lying. So the chart still hangs on the wall but remains untouched. Add to the challenge that these days there are so many articles out there about why you shouldn’t give your kids an allowance for doing chores. Chores like making the bed, setting the table, clearing the table, well, those are all things kids should be doing naturally to contribute to the family. Not knowing what I truly believe to be the right thing, I’ll admit, I’ve given up a bit.

On our walk one of my friends casually explained that her son gets paid $1.00 a day for doing the things he’s supposed to without argument. He’s allowed one reminder but if he gets two, all is lost. For example, if he puts his shoes on without fighting, puts his clothes in the hamper, goes to the bus when it’s time, puts his backpack away after school. All of his good behavior is rewarded with a dollar a day. She probably missed my jaw that was on the pavement, but it was. Not because I was judging but because this was so opposite of not only how I was raised but how “experts” were telling me to raise my kids when it comes to allowance. Another mom joined the conversation and she too has a similar arrangement. No fighting or arguing during daily tasks leads to a small “allowance.”

When I heard this friend does something similar, I let go of all judgement and thought to myself “what would be the harm in trying a similar system.” So with my husband gone for work for four days, I introduced a new allowance system. Do all of the following without being asked, without crying, fighting, screaming, just do it.

  1. Get dressed in the morning as soon as you wake up
  2. Immediately after that brush your teeth
  3. Put dirty clothes in the laundry
  4. Once we get downstairs, put your sneakers on
  5. When it’s time for the bus, turn off the TV, put your jacket on, get your backpack and go outside
  6. Go to bed at night and don’t come out of your room after being tucked in



We’re doing this just Monday-Friday and we’re on day seven. Guess what? My mornings have been relatively peaceful (at least I’m not asking the same thing over and over and over again) and bedtime has finally gotten back to where it should be. Perhaps experts would tell me I’m doing this all wrong. I’m sure some readers are thinking I’m nuts too. But in parenting, sometimes you have to do whatever works for your family and in this moment (yes probably for the short term moment), this is actually working!

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One comment

  1. Sophie January 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I too am curious to hear what others have to say!

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