To Give or Not To Give
When children start going to schools, a new personality enters the lives of parents. Children between the age group of five and eight years are interested in taking a lot of initiatives. S/he is interested in accomplishments and wants to do things well. A school-age child likes a feeling of responsibility-of doing something to help make the home operate smoothly. Parents may have a difficult time finding something for a child to do. That’s when they need to think about ways to let the child experience their freedom through baby steps like introducing Pocket Money for them. Similarly they may not be okay with the idea of giving Pocket Money or any other allowances to children.
Giving a monthly allowance or a Pocket Money to the child is one of the most worthwhile educational experiences that parents can provide. It presents a natural opportunity to learn counting and arithmetic calculations. It offers a chance to begin to develop a sense of logic. The child may make mistakes or buy unwisely at first. S/he may rush to spend all of his/her money the minute s/he gets it, forgetting that it will be several days before s/he gets any more. From such haste s/he may learn to be selective in his/her purchases and prudent in his/her spending, because Pocket Money also involves the necessity for choices.
Parental guidance may help a child learn that s/he can have two Balloons this week, or s/he can save his/her Pocket Money for two weeks and buy a toy or a book. But s/he cannot have both the balloons and the toy/book. This is how you can guide them to use their Pocket Money wisely and save a few bucks for the future:
1. You may wish to start your child on a small amount as Pocket Money and give the same sum regularly each week.
2. As s/he learns the possibilities and limitations of his/her allowance and as his/her needs increase, you can also increase the Pocket Money.
3. Shortly s/he will become ready to take on the additional responsibility of managing all the money s/he will need for school expenses-bus fare, school supplies or canteen money.
4. As you increase the amount of the Pocket Money, you may want to discuss with your child ways of budgeting the allowance.
5. Assist him/her to work out on how much of the Pocket Money s/he must spend each week on essential expenses.
6. If s/he has a special interest or a hobby like coin collection or stamps collection or a liking for cars/avengers/dinosaurs; this would be an ideal opportunity to introduce the idea of saving any extra money s/he may have left over.
Many times parents go overboard in giving the child Pocket Money and compromise on some other important family expenses. This is where parents need to understand that the Pocket Money should be considered a child’s share of the family income and therefore should be no more than the family can afford. The Pocket Money should be considered the child’s property, kind of, to do whatever s/he pleases. The benefits of starting pocket money for children between the age group of five-eight years are:
1. Improving Mathematical Skills: If not anything else, Pocket Money will at least be a alive educational tool for the child. As the child goes to a Toy shop or a Grocery store or a Book store, s/he will learn to use the currency notes and other concepts they have learnt in the classroom.
2. Making Choices: Child may falter in the beginning and slowly learn to make the right choices, but either way, be happy, s/he is making a decision. Pocket Money will be another way to teach the child to make choice within limits. For instance, the child might have decided to buy a particular toy in a month but that may cost him/her the Pocket Money of three months. So s/he will have to make a choice about whether to buy or not the toy.
3. Social Development: Child learns to go out of the house and talk to strangers outside running shops/stores. They would know the realities of life where people do not behave in one manner all the time. Some of them may cheat, lie or even make a quick buck through the child’s pocket money. Accordingly, they will also learn to handle such types of behaviours.
Once you decide to give Pocket Money to the child do not try to control your child’s buying. Let him/her make mistakes for in this way s/he learns. Do not insist that a young child save something every month out of his/her Pocket Money. A savings plan will appeal to them in due course of time when they want buy something special. Also, most important thing, once you start the Pocket Money do not stop it or delay it on silly/irrelevant grounds such as disobedience, over spending on junk food or poor school results. Pocket Money should definitely not be used as a bargaining tool to guarantee a child’s good behaviour nor should it become a bribe.