Photo by:

Pocket Money: Breaking the Expectation of Money for All Chores

Photo by:

There are as many different theories on kids and pocket money as there are leaves on a tree. (Okay, perhaps not quite that many, but you get the idea)

Some believe you should link chores to money so that kids develop a good work ethic early and learn that “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” The value of money is certainly an important lesson for children to learn, but what about all those things we have to do as adults that we don’t get paid for? How do we teach our children not to expect money for every task they do, at the same time avoiding the slippery slope into the underworld of bribery to get desired behaviours?

Clearly, most of us aren’t wanting to raise the next generation of Scrooge McDucks.

Ideally, we want to raise kids with a positive money mindset and practical money skills; enabling them to not only look after themselves, but also encouraging them to become global citizens by thinking globally and acting locally. To achieve this and break the money-for-chores cycle, we need to provide guidance that helps develop the Four C’s: Collaboration, Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication.

For those unfamiliar with the Four C’s, historically education has focused on the 3 R’s: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Twenty-first century studies are showing that children who also develop the Four C’s are likely to be more successful and capable as adults in all aspect of their lives: money, career, relationships, well-being.

You might be thinking, “Well that’s all well’n’good in your utopian world, but is all that really possible? How do we break the expectation of money for chores?” Here are a couple of pointers to help you get started.

1. Positive money messages

As parents, if you look back on your own earliest money memories what comes up? Many may not remember anything, some may have memories of abundance and always getting what you wanted, others may have negative memories of lack, going without, or stress.

If we are to raise financially-capable kids, it’s important we create a positive association with money from an early age. We need to be intentional about the money messages we send.

For example, “We don’t have money for that” can be a scary idea for kids; it suggests lack and scarcity. Alternatively, by saying “We haven’t budgeted for that,” we send a more empowered message—shifting from a message of scarcity/poverty to a sense of choice, responsibility, and control. It’s important to think about what money values you want to teach and how you can deliver these in a positive empowering way, so a negative money mindset doesn’t have the opportunity to develop and a child’s attention is shifted from the need to accumulate money to feel secure or safe.

2. Focus on other forms of payment

A simple family discussion can help kids understand that we don’t get paid for everything we do. As children are learning and growing, it takes them time to develop critical thinking skills and connect the dots. A discussion as a family about the activities we do in life, the things that need to be done around the home and how we get paid for these can be a good start to eliminating the money-for-chores expectation. You can introduce the idea of other forms of payments, such as gratitude, kindness, sharing, and saying “I love you,” and fill the emotional bank rather than the piggy bank.

3. Reinforcing positive behaviour

Another way to break the association of chores to money is through positive reinforcement. Praise and acknowledgement are important to kids—and not just because they like attention. Children like the good feelings that go along with positive reinforcement. It also helps them to build self-esteem and create healthy confidence. There are added benefits to parents as well: a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis found positive reinforcement can act as a preventative medicine for potential misbehaviour as kids become motivated to seek praise before making behavioural choices.

By reinforcing positive behaviour for both the paid and non-paid chores your child does, their focus changes from purely the monetary reward to the other forms of payment and recognition.

4. Encourage an entrepreneurial spirit

Inevitability, kids will want things that pocket money just can’t buy. It’s just human nature. This may ultimately shift their focus back to acquiring more money or favouring only doing chores that get them money. To get them back on track, why not encourage their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit through exploring things they are good at, or ways they can help others?

Entrepreneurial endeavours such as garage sales, lemonade stands, art stalls, etc. can be great fun. They show kids that a lot of unpaid work has to be done behind the scenes, (e.g. set-up, planning, advertising) before you can even start selling, and there is no guarantee you’ll get paid at the end of it all.

Although there is no ‘silver bullet’ to break the money-for-chores expectation, by using a combination of all or some of these ideas you can shift the focus and start developing a positive money mindset and practical money skills to set your kids up for future success.

Caroline Oxford is a Social Entrepreneur with a passion for conscious consumerism, environmental awareness, and community mindedness. Through more than 15 years in the banking industry, experience in the not-for-profit sector, and work mentoring troubled youth, Caroline’s eyes were opened to the social, psychological, and environmental fallout associated with a lack of financial capability. This led her to establish Money Mindful Kids, helping parents and caregivers provide kids with foundations of financial literacy through fun, easy activities and ideas that nurture a positive money mindset and help create a better world through money mindful decisions.

Like This Article

Like Mamapedia

Learn From Moms Like You

Get answers, tips, deals, and amazing advice from other Moms.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us
Want to become a contributor?
Want to become a contributor?

If you'd like to contribute to the Wisdom of Moms on Mamapedia, please sign up here to learn more: Sign Up

Recent Voices Posts

See all