Should I give an allowance to my child? If so, how much?

This is a very common question asked by parents. They want to know how much, when to start and how to give it.

Some parents refuse to give allowances as they believe that children should learn the value of money first, understand what it takes to earn an allowance, and try to get it. Others use arbitrary rules. One of the most common ones is to give a dollar a week for each year of age. For example, a 5-year old will get $ 5 a month. Some parents may give $ 5 a week.

Another question that is asked is: Should the kids ALWAYS get an allowance, once it is given?

Again, it depends. If a child has behaved normally during a week, then yes, they must get their allowance. Sometimes, parents use a disaster-event (child breaking something precious or does something he/she is not supposed to do) to communicate the concept of “consequences” and the allowance for that week/month is forfeited. It is important that the child understands the reason behind the forfeiture. Alternatively, the parent can keep it aside and return it back to the child once the child has started behaving in the proper manner. It is upto the parents how they use these teachable moments.

Another question that is asked: Should I pay my child for chores?

This is a difficult question which has life-long implications. A child should do chores regardless of whether an allowance is paid or not. Rewarding them for chores that they should be doing anyway sets a bad precedent. In future, if the parent wants the child to do something, the parent should be prepared to hear “how much is it worth to you?” from the child. It is better to reward the child for the extra chores he does after he does them, so that the child is not doing it for the money. 

Money and its relationship to happiness is a very delicate subject. A child should not related money with being happy and vice versa. Society may throw such images to the child as he grows up and becomes an adult, but the child should be taught that having money is not a pre-requisite for being happy.

What do you think? How would you respond to these questions?