money management

Does Incentivizing Children Work?

Are you spending more time than usual with your kids right now? As Britain gets to grips with life in lockdown, many families have been brought closer together for longer than in recent living memory. So, how are we all trying to achieve a harmonious family life?

New research reveals that 70% of parents give their children pocket money each month in exchange for household chores, getting homework done or good behavior. But does it work?

The numbers

Pocket money is by far the most common tool used to incentivize children, but limiting their time watching television or using tablets and games consoles is also popular among many parents.

When it comes to cash, it seems that working around the house is one of the best ways for kids to get paid. Tidying bedrooms (72%), doing the dishes (43%) and taking care of pets (31%) are the most common chores that can boost our kids’ bank balances.

It seems the deposits aren’t just limited to childhood either, with one in five parents polled revealing they continued giving an allowance to their children once they passed 18.

The science

Dennis Relojo-Howell, psychologist and founder of psychology website Psychreg, explains: “Some parents choose to give pocket money to their children to instill in them the value of managing finances. They will learn to choose between spending and saving.

“Incentivizing children with cash has its pitfalls, but it also has power too, as you are preparing them for real-world experience. But it’s also important to help children realize that there are things more important than money – the joy of learning and experiencing new things, for instance.”  

Those claims are certainly backed up by several schemes now introduced by high-street banks in order to educate children about saving and future financial options from a younger age.

So, as well as controlling them in the short-term, pocket money might be helping to set them up to learn responsible financial habits in adult life, too!

Sarah Greenly, who teaches Year 2 pupils in Greater Manchester, said: “Parents teaching their children financial responsibility is incredibly important. Offering money for household chores is a way that children can earn money without making learning feel like a competition they must win.”

Is it worth it?

While offering your kids money in return for completing household chores, Greenly does suggest caution when giving cash for good grades at school.

“Using money as an incentive to do well in school could make children feel under even more pressure to perform, leading to stress,” she says. “Using different incentives, like reward stickers or gold star charts could be a little easier on a child’s stress levels.”

It seems that parting with cash for all positive behavior might be a step too far. As is the case with much in life – striking the right balance is key!

Image Credit: My Photo Journey, via Flickr.

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Susan Paige

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