Should we pay our children?


The number of parents giving money on demand in lieu of pay has been on the rise of late. Is this a good option? The key is not so much in giving or not giving pay, but in how it is given.

Learn money management

Giving our children some money each week is an excellent opportunity for them to learn to consume and save. To achieve this, this money must be accompanied by education.

study carried out in the Netherlands found that people who came from families where they were given an allowance as children and taught to drive it saved between 16% and 30% more in adult life.

In this same study, it was also found that giving the salary without this educational accompaniment did not improve savings in adulthood.

We must try to meet three conditions:

  1. Give enough money so that he can acquire some good.
  2. Advise you on purchases and savings.
  3. Monitor where you spend money.

It is of little use to preach about the importance of money and what it costs us as parents to get it if we do not give them the opportunity to manage it. Spending all of their pay on candy in one afternoon and not having it for the next day helps them sort out the important from the not-so-important.

Thus, they have an opportunity to learn the importance of saving and to develop the all-important delayed gratification , the maturational mechanism that allows humans to control impulses (to be able to resist immediate gratification in exchange for greater gratification in the future). ).

Instead, giving money without supervision can be counterproductive. Some studies found that children who receive unsupervised pay are at greater risk of drug use , bullying and being overweight . But be careful, supervising and controlling does not mean recriminating. Comments like “of course, since you waste the money, now you don’t have any left; like this you will never have anything” do not help.

Wasting all the pay on chewing gum can be a mistake and you learn from making mistakes. Allowing them to make mistakes when those mistakes do not have serious consequences is a way of promoting autonomy in our children. It will be more useful to encourage them and help them plan to save on future occasions.

The age and the appropriate amount

Before primary education it is not very effective to give a salary, but we can help the little ones to develop the concept of money. For example through store-type games.

In these games we can play different roles “Today we have money and we buy. Today we don’t have so much money and we can’t buy so many things”. With this type of activity we promote the concepts of “for me”, “for you” and “for later”.

An appropriate age to start considering giving pay is when children acquire the concepts of addition and subtraction, usually around the age of seven. In the first payments we can ask them to spend only half and save the rest in a piggy bank. Thus, they can see that saving allows them to purchase more expensive goods. A weekly amount is better than monthly at these ages.

The amount will be determined by the maturity level, the expenses for which it is intended and of course by the real possibilities of the family.

In a study it was observed that families with more limited economic resources give greater importance to their children adopting more efficient consumption habits. In addition, according to this same study, these families tend to provide better savings models. So the amount is not as important as the education that goes along with the pay.

Conditions to pay

The idea is that they are clear that as parents we are going to cover their needs and they pay for the extras. The amount of money usually increases as the child gets older and takes on more responsibilities.

Teenagers who are mature enough may have an allowance to cover leisure expenses. Entertainment, travel and some clothing can be paid for by them. Of course, we can put limitations. For example, family money should not be spent on cigarettes or other harmful activities.

It is important to avoid lending money if we anticipate that they will not be able to return it. This makes it difficult for them to value money and favors the creation of conflicts. It may be more advisable to give this money if we think it’s relevant or just say no in the first place if we think you shouldn’t spend it.

We must always remember that we are the adults. Therefore we are responsible for setting limits and guiding them towards responsible consumption.

Paid housework?

Although it is a controversial issue, the existing evidence suggests that paying for household chores is not a good option. In an observational study carried out in families in the United States, it was observed that giving children money for household chores was not an effective incentive to carry them out.

The children who received money for contributing at home did not do more chores than those who did not. In addition, those girls and boys who contributed without receiving money for it tied the performance of household chores to values ​​such as duty and reciprocity.

However, some families offer their children tasks other than those of the family distribution (for example, washing the car) to earn extra money. This type of work could favor their autonomy and the ability to save. However, there is not enough research to be able to affirm it forcefully.

Our relationship with money

Thus, ultimately, the experiences we have with money in childhood influence the relationship we have with money in adulthood. Paying our children is the best alternative, as long as it is accompanied by education and supervision. The amount must be based on expenses and we must help them save a part.

Finally, we must not forget to make them see that most of the important things in life have nothing to do with money. If we act in our day to day with values ​​associated with duty and empathy, it is more likely that they will too. Showing ourselves grateful by giving a hug or a smile when we see that the table is set when we get home is more valuable than a few euros.

Author Bio: Monica Rodriguez Enriquez is a Professor, PhD in Psychology at the University of Vigo