Giving your child an allowance? Yay or Nay?

I have waited patiently to write an article on this topic. I wanted to be certain that my opinion is based on experience.

At the beginning of last year we decided to start giving the kids an allowance. There were many reasons why I assumed it would be useful. Everytime we would walk into a store, the kids would ask me for 99% of the things they would see.  Often I would say yes to buying them things I thought they “needed”. And then, when I cleaned out their rooms and cupboards (quarterly/seasonally) I would find forgotten items, duplicates and sometimes items that broke because they sat right at the bottom of the drawer. I also started noticing that my kids started thinking that when something was misplaced or broken we simply had to go back to buy another. I certainly didn’t want them to lose value for things and neither did I want them to feel like everything was just easily replaceable because the truth is that in the real world it isn’t so!!!

Another reason was spending money for school lunch break. I do make every effort to give the kids a wide variety in their lunch bags, however they often would still want to buy something at the tuckshop. And while I am in no way against them doing so, I do feel that they ended up buying too many sweets or fizzy drinks. 

I sat them down one afternoon and explained to them that they would be getting an allowance. By starting them on an allowance I was hoping that it would teach them responsibility. Responsibility with cash, responsibility for what they bought and responsible spending.

An allowance meant that when we visited a store they were allowed to buy something – with their own money. If they didnt have enough they would need to save up until they did. If they visited the school tuck they were also allowed to buy what they liked. And if they spent all their money on treats they would have none left to save towards buying a toy/novelty.

At this point I am sure my readers are keen to know how much of an allowance I do give to each child. Each one receives R50 per week. Total of R200 / month.

Now when we started off I would give each child R50 on a Sunday (in R10 & R20 notes) so if they wanted to take any to school it was already split into smaller units. After a few months of witnessing a responsible 11 year old, I started giving her the full R200 at the beginning of the month. My 7 and 8 year old needed a bit more time. Initially when they received their weekly money they would spend it in no time, either at school or on little things like putty, pranks, cheap toys etc, but the turning point was when they seen their older sister buying a big set of Lego with money she saved over 4 months. That was a beautiful moment for me yet a very very tough one. Beautiful because I had seen her show responsibility and pride in her efforts, and certainly value for her new purchase. Tough because I had 2 little people begging for some Lego too. I had to be stern about it though or the lesson wouldnt have been learnt.

Now I know there will be varying opinions about the amount of money I give to my kids. There are people who are totally against the idea of an allowance at this age and others who may feel that a parents responsibility is to provide. While I dont entirely diasgree with either set of opinions I do feel that each household needs to implement strategies that work for them. Yes a parent is responsible for providing- but that is providing the needs of a child (food, cloth,safety, education and love). The extras should be controlled and in moderation to teach our little people value and resposibility. Often my kids would ask me for things in a store that they really didnt need and very often really didnt want either. And I discovered this when thay started getting an allowance. They would still ask me for 99% of the things they would see. Only my response differed now, I would tell them you can buy it with your own money if you’d like and I cannot begin to tell you how many times they would reply: “no I dont really want it” and I would chuckle silently.

So YAY! An allowance has certainly worked for us. Birthdays are still celebratory splash-out days. And I still offer advice to my kids on how to spend their money. For example: my son asked for an XBOX for his next birthday. Which we have agreed on. But I suggested to him that he start saving up to buy games for his console. So every month he has been keeping R50 for tuck and R150 towards a games fund. 

My 7 year old really wants a Hatchimal and since her birthday is close to the end of the year, and she is too impatient to wait for it, I suggested she save up for a few months to buy one. She is already on R700. 

An allowance has taught them to compromise certain things for others. They value their purchases alot more because it was bought from “their own money”. And not “free” from mom and dad.

It has also improved the math skills of my 7 year old. She is always counting up her money.

They have also learnt to spend less on sweeties because they preferred saving towards something more concrete. I know I may be cheating here but I did also tel them that if they bought too many sweets and their teeth went bad they would have to save up all their money for the dentist. Altho I think this one worked. Hehe!!!

Mind you it did take a few months to get into the routine of an allowance. For them and me. I learned to say no and stick to no! They learned to spend more wisely! 

I would like to invite my readers to comment underneath and let me know your opinion and thoughts on an allowance. Xoxo

Reward Systems

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Reward Systems Part 1-Preparation
The new reward system that i am Introducing to my 6, 7 & 10 year old is based on a token system.
You can earn, lose and spend tokens.
I bought these clear pvc jars (+-500ml size) with wide opening(see pic)
The tokens i will be using are wooden beads about the diameter of a coin(see pic)
The jar holds about 50-60 of these beads which is a perfect size for our system.
I stuck on some vinyl chalkboard labels and labelled each childs bottle with a paint marker.
You can use buttons, beads, pom poms or anything you can think of that will work.

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The second part of our reward system establishes how to earn, lose and spend tokens. I sat my kids down after preparing the system itself to explain to them how we were goin to go about it. Now that they’re 6, 7 & 10 i was truly amazed at their input. In fact my 10year old truly impressed me how she pointed out flaws in the system and cleared out a few uncertainties. My 7 year old made sure about what each item in our treat box costed. And my 6 year old was entirely nonchalant. As long as she was earning with minimal effort-that is good enough for her 😂
As a parent you would know what behaviours you need to concentrate on in your kids. I feel that moulding a childs behaviour is not always a direct result of giving them an instruction. And sometimes that extra motivation just helps. Knowing they are going to receive a token or two just coax their efforts.

Here is our earn chart:

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EARN
I printed out an Earn, Lose and Spend chart indicating to my kids how they could earn tokens as part of our rewards system. It is important that children have a clear indication of what they are earning. It is almost like a routine. Children thrive on routine knowing what to expect or what comes next. And knowing what they will receive after a task provides for them that security. It is also very important to reward them on completion of the respective task. That way the sense of accomplishment is more real. I have kept our jars and beads in a central spot so that when they have completed a task they receive their tokens.
For our household the above are areas we need to work on and new behaviours i think are important to mold.
Eg. In almost all cases my children are obedient. However often my son will groan when instructed. Or delay. So our goal now is to obey cheerfully and on time.
Cleaning up after yourself without being reminded(more than once) is an area that needs extra attention in our home. Hence they can earn 3 tokens for this one to motivate them to hopefully achieve that behaviour sooner.

Here is our LOSE chart. It depicts behaviours that would cause you to lose tokens.

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Certain behaviours result in losing a token immediately- they are non negotiable.
There are also those behaviours that deserve a warning first. And if they continue they will then lose a token.

Om a Sunday we sit together and then count out the tokens and everyone gets to decide how to spend them. Here is our SPEND chart.

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Rewars Systems – Part 3
Spending your earnings.
This is of course the most exciting part of a reward system – THE REWARD 😆😆😆
I have given my kids options on how they would like to spend their tokens. Every sunday we count out how many tokens each child has and then decided how they would like to spend it.
1. On 30min of mummy and me time (that means just the 2 of us) – i dont do this because i feel that they need to earn time spent with me or because they need to pay me back for time spent with me, but it is merely to encourage the good behaviours. I explained to them that if i spent less time giving them instructions i would have more time to spend alone with each one. So everytime they earned a token for completing a task without difficulty- they are getting closer to their 30minutes.
In this time we could take a walk, read a chapter of their favourite book, play a board game, ride our bikes or bake (and im open to any other suggestions)
2. 30min wifi purely for gameplay
3. Extra tv time (i allow them 30 min a day anyway provided they have completed ALL homework)
4. Convert tokens to cash eg 1 token = 1 rand so that they have the option of saving their money.
5. Treat from the treatbox ( so to achieve this and make sure i filled the treatbox with items they would want to earn we went for milkshakes the other day and walked around the mall. I tried to gauge what they like by seeing things they picked up to look at or things they asked me for. I then went back the next day to buy them. I individually marked each item based on how much they costed so R10 toy = 10 tokens.) Out treatbox contains all little items. And ive made it clear to them that should i find toys on the floor those would also go into the treatbox to be earned again. I noticed too that they have more value for items they have earned and they are less likely to be careless about it.
It is also important to ensure that earning their rewards takes effort but not so much that they would rather leave it. For eg earning 100 tokens to go on an outing would take all month-younger kids can not envision this and they will then lose interest

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Everythin you see in this picture is in our treatbox plus a few extra items
6year old –
White tutu = 30 tokens
Playing cards = 25 tokens
Slime = 7 tokens
Stylus pen for her iPad = 30 tokens
New glitter to add to her craft box = 5 tokens
Cartridges for her leappad = 15 tokens (these cost R250 each and she has around 20 cartridges – she is only allowed 6 in her bag so when she decides she wants to play with  one that stays with me she has to swap 15 tokens and 1 cartridge to get a new one)
Lego reading light = 30 tokens
Little cupcake shaped erasers for her collection = 5 tokens

7 year old –
Bubble gun = 30 tokens
Extra bubbles = 7 tokens
Slime = 7 tokens
Laser light = 15 tokens
Balloon pump = 15 tokens
Balloons = 5 tokens
Stylus pen = 30 tokens
Scratch paper = 5 tokens

10 year old –
She generally prefers to convert to cash and save her money. She gets an allowance already every week. So this is an opportunity to earn extra cash.
However i have a few items for her too:
Craft stickers = 10 tokens
Books = 30 tokens (her books are always R100 or more but i feel reading is so good for them that the sooner they earn the book the better)
Selfie stick = 25 tokens
Tinted lipbalms = 10 tokens
Nail polish = 15 tokens
Bracelets = 10 tokens

Hope this helps !!!!!

Reward Charts – Keep it Simple

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As long as i can remember i have been keeping a reward chart for each child. In fact so much has changed between my first chart and where we are now. Lots and lots of modifications in between and we are finally here using out Melissa & Doug reward chart with magnetic board. ( Available at TAKEALOT)
What i love about this board is it reusable – firstly. So no more copies upon copies and endless designing or searching for the perfect and most interesting find.
What i came to discover too is that my daughter (6 years old) actually learnt so many math concepts through arranging and rearranging all the reward magnets – creating patterns, graphs, adding them, subtracting them and so on. This was incidental and much to my amazement.

With regard to the actual functionality of a reward chart in general i realised that the best way to make the idea of having one work for you is to keep it real and keep it simple.
By real i mean its important to set rules/limits in your household which are non negotiable. Dont include these in your chart as the kids DO NOT and SHOULD NOT need to be rewarded for rules in your home that shouldn’t be broken. E.g TV time in the evenings are allowed only if you complete all your homework on time. (TV time is already the reward for completing their homework and this is a non negotiable rule). Remember it is their “choice” not to get tv time since they have chosen not to complete their homework.

However areas and habits that you wish to encourage your child to partake in or complete are necessary to include in the reward chart like setting the dinner table or packing away their toys. Until you find they are actively participating regularly you can continue to reward their efforts.

We focus on rewards being outings or activities. Painting or crafting rather than shopping. It creates a sense on importance in the child by spending that quality time doing something special.

Keeping your reward chart simple and straightforward makes keeping up with it far easier for both parent and child. Tasks are simple like setting the dinner table or brushing ones teeth. Easily achievable in other words and very important is to reward the child on completion of the task. And not later on. Remember that young children do not have concept of time and rewarding them later would make them feel unaccomplished.