(Goblin is 4 years old)
Over the past 4 years I've got into a habit that with the wonder of hindsight I can see was bad parenting 101. I buy Goblin toys on nearly every outing. The toys he likes are the little match box cars. They cost about 96p and keep him quiet in the trolley while I'm shopping. With this miracle distraction I can head off all sorts of tantrums. So you can see why for a while I thought this was a solid parenting plan.
But of course now Goblin has come to expect a toy every time we go anywhere. And our toy collection is getting ridiculous. Hublet and I both decided it was time to cut back and start saying no. But we didn't want to just make him go cold turkey. It didn't seem fair and we wanted him to have the chance of being able to get a toy once in a while.
We could have just left it to whether we felt like buying him a toy, but that felt a bit arbitrary. We could have tied it to good behaviour, but I'd like to teach him that good behaviour is about more than just rewards. So we decided to introduce pocket money.
I have no idea how much pocket money to give to a 4 year old. I guess some would probably say none, and others would say lots. When I was young I got 10p to spend on sweets, but 10p these days wouldn't go very far. I want Goblin to be able to buy something more than once a year! So I thought about what Goblin was likely want to buy - small metal vehicles which cost between £1 to £5. I knew I didn't want to give Goblin £5 every week. That wouldn't teach him anything because he would be able to buy a toy a week. And I also knew that I wanted him to be able to see an end in sight so that saving up was a real experience with an achievable reward at the end.
So we settled on £2 a week. That would mean it would take at least two weeks to earn enough money to buy one thing. As we do lots of trips Goblin would have to make decisions about what he was going spend his money on, foregoing some things to save for others.
We did discussed whether we should link his pocket money to good behaviour but decided against it. One lesson at a time. I want this to be about him making choices about what he wants and then having the patience to save for it. Good budgeting skills are an essential element of life.
We started his pocket money in the first week of 2014. Last weekend after a two week wait and having to make a difficult choice not to buy a toy in the gift ship at the museum earlier in the week, Goblin had enough money to buy a space plane he had seen in the super market. He was so excited about being able to purchase it himself. I think that made the toy more special. He has now decided to save for a tractor that is £15. I explained that it would take 8 weeks to save up for, but so far he is determined to do just that. It will be interesting to see if he can do it.
Do you give your kids pocket money? How much do you give and have you attached any conditions to it? I'd love to know how others deal with this.
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