Do you give your kids pocket money?
Right around age three our eldest started asking constantly (literally!) for toys.
He would ask in the car, at dinner, at bath time, bed time…the conversation would even come up when he was engrossed in an activity.
He just loves toys and loves playing with them.
As he began to question things more it became increasingly difficult to explain why sometimes we said “yes” to his requests and sometimes we didn’t.
Birthdays and Christmas were a long way off and it felt unreasonable to make him wait 5 months for a £5 toy.
We have always tried to buy quality and/or second-hand toys to reduce our cconsumption and waste so it was particularly difficult when our toddler started asking for cheap plastic-crap (you know the stuff I mean!)
We knew we had to do something.
Why our kids get pocket money…
One particular weekend our three year old had gone from wanting a toy kangaroo to a toy zebra to a Brachiosaurus…and I was loosing patience.
It was obvious that this was more about him having some understanding and control over the situation than it was about wanting a specific toy.
We had a two minute conversation that went something like:
“You’re getting very upset about buying toys at the moment. I think it might help if we give you some of your own money every weekend. It won’t be enough to buy a big toy but you can buy something cheap or keep it until you have enough for something more expensive.”
His mood changed instantaneously.
We both felt relieved.
His recently regular meltdowns were replaced with the odd “How many pocket monies will I need to get xy or z?”
It may not work instantaneously for all children but I think most kids thrive on having some control over their adult-dominated lives.
Don’t make these mistakes when giving kids pocket money…
Don’t give more than you can afford.
This is kind of obvious but it’s amazing how easily we are pressured by what other parents say.
We give £2.50 to our boys every Saturday. It made sense for us for various reasons.
If you can’t afford £2.50 because you have more kids or low earnings then don’t feel pressured to do so.
The amount you give is up to you and nobody else.
Don’t use pocket money as a bribe or threat.
Using pocket money as a way to respond to our child’s behaviour (good or bad) is a no-go area.
They get their pocket money no matter what.
Any behaviour incidents that need responding to are dealt with as a separate issues (following gentle parenting practices).
Similarly, I wouldn’t want to start paying my children to do day-to-day “chores” for extra pocket money.
They are still young but my eldest will help to set the table for dinner and pick up his toys before bed (sometimes 🤣).
Every member of a family can chip-in with helping around the house and this can be fun! We use natural cleaning products to make sure it’s safe.
As soon as we teach children that they can get money for doing jobs they are more likely to expect money for anything we ask of them.
Don’t control how your child spends their money.
Living eco-consciously was easy before having children.
One of the hardest things for us was deciding what was reasonable with regards to buying things for our children.
We live in a world where we are surrounded by people wanting to sell us things.
I’ve always talked quite frankly to my eldest about this (especially when it comes to YouTube advertising!)
However, my husband and I have no say when it comes to how they spend their pocket money.
Allowing them to make what we deem as “bad” choices may actually become an opportunity to teach them about natural consequences.
This doesn’t mean that we’re ready with an “I told you so!” when the wheels fall off his car within minutes!
We would empathize with an “Oh dear. It broke! That’s a shame.”
Given time, he’ll work the rest out for himself.
Saying that, we do encourage them to buy second hand by visiting charity shops and car boots (and rarely going into other shops!)
Don’t force your child to save but make it easy for them.
Saving will come more naturally to some children than others.
I remember giving my niece some money when I took her to a car boot (yard sale). She can’t have been more than 3 or 4 but she carefully considered every single item she saw…each time deciding to save her money.
She left the sale with her shiny gold coin.
My son is getting a little more thoughtful about his spending but he will often find it hard to resist spending his money…even if there is nothing he really wants.
Saving is so much easier if the money is put away. Get them a piggy bank and open a bank account as soon as they are old enough.
Don’t start giving loans or top-ups!
If we start giving “just a little extra” or giving pocket money in advance then it’s likely to be cause confusion later on.
Starting to bend the rules brings confusion to a simple concept.
Don’t confuse what their pocket money is for.
In our family, pocket money is for our children to buy anything they want that we wouldn’t usually buy regularly (toys, magazines etc.)
As they get older I imagine the amount they recieve will increase a little to include enough to socialise more with friends.
Food, clothes and their education are our responsibility as parents.
So, any clubs our children attend or clothes that they need, is not paid for with pocket money.
A child does not have the will-power or foresight to prioritize anything other than what they want at any given moment.
As parents we provide essentials and they have pocket money for anything else.
For the sake of £2.50, I think that giving kids pocket money teaches them loads of skills and encourages them to use their money thoughtfully.
What’s your view… is giving kids pocket money a good idea!?