How to use money to teach kids responsibility...in a way that actually clicks
Ahh, Spiderman…”with great power comes great responsibility”.
I had a high school history teacher who always talked about rights and responsibilities. His point was that people are willing to stand up and point out their rights as a citizen, but you didn’t hear people talking about their responsibilities as a citizen with the same passion.
So, how about kids. We try from a young age to instill in them the idea that there are consequences for our actions. We wanted them to be responsible for their choice of action….and if that meant a time out, so be it.
As they get older, we’ve had to become more creative with our consequences. Where possible, I like the consequence to fit the crime. Yes, our kids have had to write essays on respect. And had to re-write it when they used a huge font to fill the pages.
Once we empowered kids with their own money, it opened up a new avenue for consequences (I admit, when I first wrote that sentence I used the phrase “opened up a new realm of possibility”...but that sounded like I was way too excited about consequences.)
The truth is, as our kids get older, some of their actions have financial consequences. They break things, they waste things. And the money implications just don’t sink in unless it’s their own money that’s impacted. Just like our kids didn’t understand that the movie candy was overpriced until it was their money, they won’t understand the cost of replacing something that is broken until it is their money.
My Ah-Ha Moment
Oh, the cell phone story. I have told this one many, many times over the years.
Our oldest got his first cell phone. He had had it for awhile, and reached that point where he didn’t coddle it anymore.
He came home from the park one day, and said to his dad “I cracked my cell phone screen at the park today while climbing a tree. Can you pay to fix it?”
So, I’m sure you already know where I’m going with this story, but let’s look at the options. In the absence of an allowance, we could:
Say no, have him be without phone, and waste the money already spent on the phone.
Pay for it ourselves, give him a stern talking to, and wait for him to do it again.
Let him earn the money, however he was too young for a real job, and there are only so many bonus jobs I can come up with around the house.
Instead, no surprise here, we said he could use his allowance savings to pay for it. It put a huge dent in his savings. But he also spurged for a protective case (something he had resisted until then as being uncool).
The consequence was real for him...it was no longer about mom and dad taking care of everything. I see our kids allowance as being the money we likely would have spent on them anyway in one way or another, but them becoming responsible for that money and how it is used.
Family Movie Night
Pop the popcorn and pop in The Lion King (old or new version....you choose)
Simba wants to hide away from his responsibility and....
Lunch Box Notes
Don't forget to download our lunch box notes about taking responsibility...a little daily dose of inspiration for your kids. (click on image to download now)