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Allowance for a Six-Year-Old
Q: We are researching the best ways to give our six year old an allowance. We would like to hear about your ideas.
A: There have always been differences of opinion among parents and child development educators on whether an allowance should be given at all, and if it is given, whether the allowance should be tied to chores and/or responsibilities at home. I support the notion that an allowance that begins early in a child's life gives her an opportunity to learn about the meaning of money at many levels - spending it, saving it, and valuing it. My professional opinion is not to tie an allowance to chores or responsibilities at home. The notion of kids' as well as parents' benefiting financially from the work of the family is a healthy one. Parents' sharing the family's economic wealth with their kids in the form of a regular allowance flows from that concept. The chores and family responsibilities that kids are assigned should be looked upon as their natural contribution to their family, not work tied to the acquisition or loss of money.
I might recommend a dollar or two per week for a child of six. Paying the child twice a month teaches her to budget her money for longer periods of time than a weekly stipend. Allowances are great bridges to discussing money matters, a topic kids are woefully unschooled in. In general, I believe that kids should be allowed to spend their money as they choose. If they run out of money, parents should not rescue them, as this is a good lesson in money management. You should certainly offer your opinions on budgeting, various uses for their money, including regular charitable giving and saving money. As your child grows older, it's healthy to introduce him to the world of paid work, in addition to the allowance he receives. There are many jobs above and beyond her regular chores that a child can be paid for, in addition to paid work she can do for others. Experiencing the connection firsthand between hard work and financial reward is a most valuable lesson. I am sure that your six year old will benefit greatly from the consideration you have devoted to this important but oft neglected parenting role.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.