Our girls are seven and a half and they LOVE money.
They are so incredibly motivated by the idea of getting money and spending money. They spend hours pouring over junk mail, discussing what they would spend their money on. They spend hours counting their cash and dreaming up ways to earn more. They argue over whether they should pool their money, if they could ever agree on what to buy. Zoe even lies awake at night worrying about what she will spend her money on.
Their current obsession with getting money so they can buy more stuff is driving me insane.
They already have a lot of ‘stuff’… you know… all those tiny fiddly little toys like Party Animals, Polly Pockets, Squeakies, Littlest Pet Shops, and their latest obsession, Sylvaian Families. I’m not really keen on them getting more ‘stuff’, they have more than enough ‘stuff’ already.
But I do want my kids to learn about money. To learn how to save up for things and the value of working hard to earn something you really want. I think all that is important, so I try not to roll my eyes too much when they drool over more bits of colourful plastic crap that the baby will no doubt choke on.
The problem we have, however, is that of balance.
I am happy to ‘pay’ my girls when they do extra chores or other ‘work’ around the house, but there are some things I expect them to do just because they need to look after their own things, and because they are part of our family and I expect them to contribute to the smooth running of our home.
I expect them to put away their own clean clothes. I expect them to clean their room (with help) once in a while. I expect them to help set the table and clear the table. I expect them to empty the dishwasher. I expect them to feed their guinea pigs. I don’t expect anything too monumental, or at least I don’t think I do!
These are things I simply expect them to do, but with their sudden urge to get more and more money I am now faced with a never ending chorus of “how much will you pay me?” Not to mention a look of abject horror and a cry of “what? you expect me to do it… for FREE??? That’s not fair!!”
Kill. Me. Now.
I have to hold myself back from beginning a long and yelly rant on how the world is not fair and I am doing you a favour by getting you used to it now girly… But once I’ve composed myself and swallowed my lecture I try a quick reminder of why we all pitch in to help around out house. This never goes down well.
I’m a big believer in encouraging ‘intrinsic motivation’ – the idea that they want to do something good or helpful or right because it makes them feel good, not because they are going to get a reward of some kind. This is where I think helping around the home falls… it is just something we do because it is the right thing, part of daily life. It used to be this way, but it seems once I paid them to do something I broke my own rule and gave away the chance of ever getting to just help for the goodness of helping ever again.
How do un-break my rule?
Are all seven year olds very into money and buying things?
Do I stop paying them to do anything, even those ‘above and beyond’ jobs (they moved 50 bricks on the weekend at 20 cents a brick!)?
Do I start just giving them an amount of pocket money each week, regardless of what chores they do?
How do I instil in them the value of ‘being part of a family means helping look after your own stuff and helping with the running of the house’ and the value of working hard to earn the things you want?
How do you deal with chores and money in your house?