One of the best ways to deal with the “I Wants” is to give your child some money.
“Give my child money?!” you ask? Yes. You can teach your child how to be financially responsible if you teach them about value and the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees.
A few summers ago, I gave my daughters each $5 and took them garage sale shopping. My thought was that they could spend “their” money on anything (within reason) that they wanted and garage sales often offer cheaper prices than shopping retail.
It was a great lesson in finances. The money was practically burning a hole in one daughter’s pocket. She wanted everything she saw at the first garage sale. My other daughter was a little more selective, but still picked some items that I would call ‘interesting,’ to say the least.
While we were shopping, I casually asked each daughter if the item she selected was something she needed, or felt that she really wanted, or if it was just something she thought would be neat. If she spent her money on that item, would she regret not being able to buy something else at the next garage sale?
We talked about the possibility of coming back, after going to a second garage sale, if she decided that she did really want the item after all. We also discussed the risk of the item possibly being gone if we came back.
Both girls bought a few things at the first sale, but also put a few things back to save their money for the next sale. When we got to the next sale, they saw a large wooden structure that they both loved and wanted to use as a Barbie house. They were able to pool their leftover money and pay for it together ($2).
After that big purchase, both financially and in physical size, my girls decided to keep the rest of their money ($2 and $0.45) for another day.
Giving your child some money can help teach them to be financially responsible. Whether you just hand money out -as I did to teach this lesson, have your child earn it, or set up an allowance plan, you, as the parent, get to decide how much and how often.
By learning about value and having the freedom or control to purchase his/her own items, you can reduce your child’s “I want this!” and “I want that” by saying, “Yes! You can have that. You can use your money to buy it!”
Do you feel like you are doing all of the work around your house?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help so that you could play, too?
Young children love to help! If your children are young, you have a huge advantage here, please don’t let this slip away. If your children are older, it’s a bit more work, but in the end, you will have well rounded, knowledgeable children who can take care of themselves when they are off on their own- not to mention a little more time for yourself before they leave!
It’s important to find age-appropriate chores and to realize that you will need to teach, and re-teach these chores on occasion. It’s also important that you pick chores you can live with being done at a ‘child-level.’ If you need to have the mirrors wiped without streaks, or it will bother you all day long, this is not a chore you should give to your child. If you don’t care that there is a smudge here or there, give it away and put your feet up for a few moments!
Obviously young children will need more help and supervision, and older children will need to be taught and supervised in the beginning, too. Just remember, you are training your child for the long run. If you can stick with it, the benefits are worth it.
Here are some examples of a few age appropriate chores and a few tips:
Young Children (3-5 years old)
Pick Up Toys: You can make a game of this or have your child race a timer.
Set/Clear the Table: If you put the items on the table and have taught your child (or continue to teach) where to put the plates, napkins, forks and spoons, your child can start this task as early as 3-4 years old. Encouraging your child to clear his/her plate and silverware can start as early as they are able to carry something from the table to the counter.
Vacuum/Mop: Young children love to help. In the beginning, a toy vacuum is a great way to have children help and enjoy doing the chore.
Laundry: Children love to make pairs and find matches. Have them help by sorting socks.
5-8 Year Olds
All of the above chores with a little more responsibility.
Pick up Toys: We have a saying at our house: “Whatever you take out, you must put back.”
Set/Clear Table: Your child can set the table with items you have put on the table and can also start helping to bring food to/from the table. Clearing can include not only his/her place setting, but also parent place settings, too.
Vacuum/Mop/Dust Mop: Children can start using ‘real’ vacuums and mops at this age.
8+ Years Old
All of the above chores and…
Pick Up Toys and Crafts: At this age we added the saying: “If you can’t clean it up withing 15 minutes, it might be too much.” My daughters prefer to spend more time playing than cleaning, so this saying seemed to resonate with them.
Load/Unload Dishwasher: When my children first started unloading the dishwasher, they were too short to put some of the dishes and cups away in the high cupboards. They started by putting the things on the counter and I would put them away. As they grew, they were able to stand on a stool to help them be tall enough to finish the job. And, yes, for those of you who know me, I have to use the stool sometimes, too!
So, there you have it. A list of a few age-appropriate chores you can try at your house. My suggestion would be to pick one or two chores and experiment with those chores, not to try all of them this week. Once you have established a routine, or a system that works with one or two chores, you can add another one. Slowly, over a few months, you can continue to increase the responsibility. Just don’t forget to figure in the “Fun Factor” to keep things from seeming too much like work.