The ‘Pocket Money for Chores’ Debate

The ‘Pocket Money for Chores’ Debate - should you give your child an allowanceIt’s an age old parenting question, but one which still causes a huge amount of debate: should you give your child pocket money or allowance for doing chores?

The best answer we can give you is, ‘it depends’.

One obvious reason for linking the two is to encourage a work ethic. Giving pocket money for chores teaches a simple lesson: if you do the work, you get paid. If not, you don’t. Since children in the UK can only take on part time work at the age of 13 (except for certain ‘performance’ related jobs), pocket money provides a good way to teach this lesson at an early age.

But wait a moment… shouldn’t your children be helping out with the chores around the house anyway? A key part of being a family is working as a team and recognising the hard work of others. Giving money for chores runs the danger of creating a selfish attitude, and you also run the risk of hearing comments such as: ‘So you want me to take my school bag upstairs? What are you going to pay me for that?’ Also consider what happens if a child decides they aren’t bothered about getting pocket money a particular week. Does that mean they can get away with not doing their chores?

You can immediately see the pitfalls with the system. So what is the best way to overcome them?

Each family is likely to have a slightly different approach, but one of the best systems we’ve found is to pay your child a base amount of pocket money, which is unrelated to chores. This basic amount will teach them vital decisions about money and saving – whether they save their money to get something they really want, or whether they spend it straight away for instant (but often fleeting) gratification (that’s another issue entirely)

In the meantime, children should be asked to do basic chores around the house, but can be given the opportunity to earn extra ‘rewards’ by completing chores which are beyond their usual scope. Cleaning the car, for example, is a chore many parents agree they would like to reward their children for taking on. This reward can be monetary, but could also take other forms. One good option we came across is a sticker system. Every time your child goes above and beyond what is expected of them they are allowed to put a sticker on their chart, and once they’ve reached an agreed number, they’re allowed a treat. This could take a variety of forms: maybe a special purchase you both agree on, or possibly a special trip. The advantage of this system is that the rewards are flexible and can be varied depending on the individual child’s preference.

Of course, no matter what pocket money system you use, it is almost inevitable that your children will complain about their chores at some point. But if you talk the system through with them, explain why it’s fair, and, most of all, keep it consistent, you should find that these instances become far less common.

Do you agree? What are your own experiences with pocket money and chores? Share your thoughts below.