Children and their Responsibilities

Child abuse or child development?

A child’s feelings of self worth grow as their capability grows.  Ask yourself how it feels when you accomplish something new.  When you can stand back and look at your work and know that it is good.  If parents do everything for their children for whatever reason, the children grow up believing they are incapable and afraid to try new things.

It is a lot of work to keep a house running smoothly, especially when there are 8 people in it (or more!).  Children can and ought to be a part of that work.

We expect every child to do their part and we reward every child according to their efforts.  We have adopted a system that was developed by Richard and Linda Eyre which you can look at more fully using the link below.  We have found this to be very successful and I will explain it very basic terms here.

http://valuesparenting.com/the-happy-family/family-infrastructure/family-economy/

This is how we have set it up and implemented it.

There are 4 areas of responsibility, each given a different colour. (You can have as many as you want and choose what those responsibilities are.)

  1. Yellow – morning responsibilities eg. made bed etc
  2. Green – Personal responsibilities eg. homework, music practice etc
  3. Red – Household responsibilities eg. cleaning, laundry, pets etc
  4. Night time responsibilities eg. packed bag for school, wearing retainers etc

Every night before bed they report on these responsibilities by writing down which ones they have done and they are signed by a parent and posted into a bank.   The bank is opened on a Saturday (Pay day) where they receive payment for the total number of completed responsibilities.  Each responsibility is worth a certain amount.

We have found that this system works best from the age of 8 up to 15 years.  Under 8’s we have pictures on the wall that they try to do everyday, but they are not expected to write and report, rather we ask them.

The money is written into bank books rather than given in cash.   It is expected that this money is to be used for whatever they want and we provide whatever they need. However, we have found that by the time they are 11 they are wanting and ready for more responsibility.  They open a bank account and we give them the full amount of money that we would normally spend on them and they begin to budget for themselves, buying what they need and want.  For example, school supplies, clothing, glasses, birthday presents for family and friends etc.  Our children have loved the freedom that this has given them.  The only rules are that they are not allowed to borrow money from anyone and they must save 20% for the future.  To begin with we work out a yearly budget with them.  Itemising everything we think they think they will need for a year, as well as how much we think it will cost.  From here we can work out a monthly allowance.  We work closely with them for the first three months helping them to record their spending and look ahead for anything they might need to save their money for in the coming months.

The Family Economy by Linda and Richard Eyre – click here for more information 

“The basic thesis of the idea is that if kids are given a legitimate and fair way to earn money, they will develop initiative and motivation because they perceive ownership.  If they have a chance to budget and spend they will learn discernment and discipline.  If they save and invest their money they will understand delayed gratification.  And, in the process, both their gratitude and generosity will have a climate in which to grow.

The basic process of the idea is to take money you are already spending on your kids and re-route it through their ownership and choices.  This is done by making the process part of a natural economy where parts of the money that comes to a household goes out to those who do parts of the common work of  the household.

The basic premise of the idea is that it is better to have children learning the lessons of earning and spending and saving (and making mistakes in all three) while they are young and the stakes are small than when they are older and the stakes are large.”

Somethings to keep in mind…

In training for these responsibilities, proceed gradually. First, establish a relationship, then through discussion, the adult and child can decide what jobs they can take on. Bear in mind the following principles:

  • Children have rights as well as responsibilities. If these rights are arbitrarily withdrawn, the child will feel dominated and will resist efforts to gain their co-operation.
  • Allow children choices in what jobs they undertake (doing nothing is not one of the choices).
  • Vary tasks given. Children enjoy a new challenge.
  • Do not impose your perfectionist standards on a job being carried out by a child.
  • Never do for a child what he/she can do for her/himself.