Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Making an allowance

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, my partner and husband, Sam. Sam took on my CarNatPar post for me and elucidated one current and telling aspect of our overall parenting philosophy.

Guest post by Crackerdog Sam

One of Lauren's and my parenting philosophies is to let our children learn via trial and error, experimentation, and exploration (within safe boundaries, of course). Rather than introducing the rules of how or even why things must be done, which presents only options of compliance or noncompliance, we give our children (well, child, really, as Alrik's not really up for decision-making yet) room to discover and decide for themselves how to interact with the world.

Fresh on my mind is our introduction of an allowance for Mikko, an experiment just two weeks old. We weren't sure if this was the right time to start, as Mikko doesn't really understand math yet, but our hope was that having his own money to spend would be part of his beginning to understand math. Secondarily, as Mikko is quite good at begging for treats and toys every time we're out running errands, we thought that giving him his own money and telling him that he could save it up to buy something big he likes would teach him about the pleasure of delayed gratification.

Neither of our stealthily disguised lessons have yet borne fruit, but in just a few short weeks Mikko has discovered and implemented a host of other concepts about commerce, relationships, and life:

  • Cooperative purchasing. The very first day, Mikko found he didn't have enough money left to buy a drink he wanted. I assumed that he would reject the rules of the allotted money per day and just demand to have one, especially with the concept being only hours old. Instead he suggested that we could pool our resources (that I could use some of my allowance) to get the drink and share it. We did.
  • Generosity. Mikko's always been eager to share some of whatever he has with us, especially food (perhaps because a large part of what he eats is shared off our plates). I wondered if this would disappear once he "owned" whatever he'd purchased, but, so far, he gets disappointed if we won't take a bite of whatever he has.
  • Deficit spending. This one perhaps qualifies as begging, but last week at the grocery store he wanted an entire bag of Dum-Dums, but was 50 cents short. (Hey, it's his money.) I told him we could come back tomorrow and get it once he had more money, but he deduced, on his own, that he could pay himself back the next day with the new money coming in. Now, you can get into trouble doing that too often in real life, but I was impressed he put the idea together himself and let him. So far he hasn't abused the idea and hasn't even attempted to use it again. (He's also shared his Dum-Dums with five people so far, and counting.)
  • Discovering the great deal that is public services. At the library he asked how much it would cost to get a book, and I explained to him that it was free to check out books as long as we gave them back when they needed them. He's always been a fan of going to the library but now that it's a place of unlimited treats that don't count against his pocketbook, he loves it even more. (He doesn't actually have a pocketbook, of course. He uses a little black coin purse.)
  • Compromise. Prior to the allowance, Mikko's idea of compromise was for him to get his own way. He wouldn't be happy if I said I'd buy him a Matchbox car — he needed two different colors of cars. Now that he's negotiating against a level of reality, though, and even though he doesn't completely get the math yet, he will ask how many of each thing he can buy, and then work out a way to get the maximum amount and variety of things that will make him happy within the budget. I'm actually a bit stunned at the enormity of this shift to have taken place in such a short timeframe.
  • Working out an objective. Mikko used to ask for virtually anything he saw that immediately struck his eye. Now he's thinking a little more long-term. He's been asking for a mask for a few weeks now, which started because Max the bunny on the TV wears one when he plays superhero. These are the kinds of requests that he makes often as soon as a show is over and usually fade within the span of minutes. But in this case he held onto the idea, and a few days later told me after watching a vacation commercial that a snorkel mask would be a good superhero mask. I nodded of course and said it would, and thought nothing more of it. After inadvertently saving up some money (for once we didn't go to a store for three days straight), he found and bought himself a snorkel mask. I'm still amazed at the level of follow-though he had on that goal. We are currently having to pretend that a stranger has entered the house whenever the snorkel mask is on and be surprised that Mikko is behind the disguise.

There are many things Mikko hasn't yet learned from an allowance: intentionally saving toward something, waiting to go to another store to buy the same thing for cheaper, how quarters and dimes are a subset of a dollar and not on par with the dollar, etc. I'm sure such concepts will come to him in time. But the most important things aren't teaching the ins and outs of math and money, but giving over to Mikko some measure of power over his choices, letting him make small decisions and then evaluate for himself whether they were good or not, and experiment with different ways of grappling with the need to have whatever he sees. It's not just about him discovering the world, either, but also my opportunity to discover him and his mindset and values. And, if necessary, I can step in to help and guide within a real-life context rather than have to pontificate in abstractions.

We learn by doing. We teach, best, by coming alongside during the process.

Crackerdog Sam (that's his hobo name) is a full-time work-from-home parent. He shares both the working and the parenting of four-year-old Mikko and seven-week-old Alrik with Lauren of Hobo Mama.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured's parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter's first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom's parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She's come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations - Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It's the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter's life.
  • On Children — "Your children are not your children," say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she's using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it's important for her daughter's growth.
  • What's a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh... — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there's no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they'll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she's doing.


Deb Chitwood said...

I love your philosophy of allowing your children to learn through experimentation and exploration - very Montessori! And I loved your examples of Mikko's economic lessons - especially the cooperative purchasing one of getting you to use some of your allowance! Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

Kelly said...

This is absolutely brilliant - I love it!

Mikko is a genius (as you know, I'm sure) ;) - but seriously, I love posts that made me think outside my box and I don't think I ever would have contemplated giving an allowance at this age - it is astounding how much he has figured out so quickly!

One of the things I've always been fearful of is that my kids will be as bad with money as we are (as our parents are, etc.) and this looks like a great way to start out with better teaching. Thank you so much for sharing!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I love having friends with a child just a *little bit* ahead of mine, so I can learn from your experiments :) Kieran is pretty fascinated with money, but right now it's just the names and the shininess and the various sizes. He is aware that we use money to buy things (although we usually use the debit card, so, maybe he's not as aware as I think he is), but he has no idea of value, etc. I don't know if he's ready for an allowance, but one question I *do* have is this - what if he wanted to buy something you weren't comfortable with him having? A huge box of crap candy, or a toy that you consider violent? Would it turn into a lesson in moderation (for the candy)? A lesson in peaceful living (for the toy)? How do you balance - at 4yrs old - the line between autonomy and guidance?

Jenn said...

This is WONDERFUL. I was wondering how young is too young when it comes to ideas like this, but your experiment leads me to believe that learning the value of goods and services can start early.

In college I worked at a video arcade and I was continually amazed at the children who did not know how much change they should receive from a dollar when they buy a fifty-cent can of soda. Seven- and eight-year olds who had no idea to expect change back. It was shocking and sad and it left a big impression on me.

ana z. said...

I love this! 1) Mikko is a-fricken-dorable. 2) OMG! He mastered some basic concepts of math and economics in two short weeks of allowance! Brilliant!

Looking at the whole post, it's really amazing how little things relay into real-life big things, ie. deficit spending (which I am a master at...) and compromise. Quite a good lesson, and I may have to borrow this once the time is ripe! : )

Anonymous said...

@Jenn I think this brings up a good point that in our world of plastic, handling money sometimes is archaic. Yet I find handing over cash and coins rather than a debit or credit card makes me much more mindful of the cost and value of an item.

I think an allowance experience like this will have far-reaching lessons. I loved reading about it!

Momma Jorje said...

Awesome idea! Gee, now I can hardly hope to begin such an exercise with Sasha (and she's barely 2 yet). I'm kind of wishing we'd done a steady allowance with Tyler (she's nearing 13) because I don't think she has a concept of the value of money, either. She has a savings account (intended for a car when she is 16) that she is generally not allowed to use anyway. I don't think that helps at all.

I may have to give more thought to how / when / and how much allowance I could / would be willing to do with her.

A question... my older daughter is not very good at keeping up with her things, any of them. So with such a young boy, do you "hold" his coin purse for him, or does he keep it himself? (at home as well as out and about)

Becky said...

Wow, seeing how Mikko has handled an allowance has convinced me to do that as well!!

Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama said...

Lauren, you have an awesome husband (as if you needed me to tell you that ;-)!

I'm so glad that having an allowance has had such a positive impact on Mikko.

Unknown said...

Great post! Miles is on his way to 2.5, and we're at that phase where walking anywhere near a car or a ball is going to end with him in the cart screaming, "BALL! BALL! BALL!" while I try to pick up milk. (To solution is often "Avoid the toy section of the store," but I got trapped there yesterday looking for something else.)

It's interesting to see how quickly your son picked up basic money concepts! :D (And dear lord, but he is cute with that dollar.) When Miles is older and easier to reason with I'll definitely keep the idea of an allowance in mind as a way to help him with math and dealing with store trips. :D

Anonymous said...

A few replies:

"walking anywhere near a car or a ball is going to end with him in the cart screaming, "BALL! BALL! BALL!" while I try to pick up milk."

Yep, that's familiar. It's what led to the idea of doing an allowance so early, to see if it would help. He used to demand something at every store we'd go into, and whether he'd get it or not depended on my mood, usually, or how many more stores we were going to. We thought this would give him a chance to have his desires push against something more stable and more concrete that he can deal with and incorporate in making decisions. Yesterday we went to three stores and he held out until the third store because he knew they had the best toys and then picked out a Matchbox truck for himself. He would occasionally get interested in other things and ask "how much does this cost?" but then put it back if it were too much and then once we got to the trucks he put aside all of the other options he'd collected that were a possibility. It's much more peaceful for him and for us.

Now, the day before he'd made a big fuss about needing _two_ little wind-up airplanes when he could only afford one, and after a while of drawing the hard line I suggested that since Grandma was with us perhaps she could get the other one for him. She likes to buy him toys and never knows what kind of things he'll enjoy, so it was partly for her, too, but I was secretly wondering if we'd lost the not-melting-down factor after three weeks. After we bought them, though, and saving them to open on the ferry boat ride home, he revealed that he'd bought one for himself and one for me so we could both play with them. Mine was a biplane with a Red Baron character in it, which he said was for me because "you have a mustache, too." So sweet! Sometimes playing things out reveals that what I was seeing as selfishness and rule-bending was actually secretive generosity and an attempt at connection. In this case it was a learning experience for me to not assume that I can assess his intentions as accurately as I imagine I can.

Sarah Smith said...

We've also been letting money teach our 4-year-old daughter about math and the random life lessons that come along with it. Rather than give her an allowance, though, she has to earn the money by doing bonus chores. Since she is only 4, the only required chores each day are taking dirty dishes to the sink and helping clean up messes she makes; she doesn't get paid for these chores, they're just part of being in the family. But there is also a list of bonus chores she can do to earn bonus rewards such as money, computer time, a video, etc. Bonus chores are things like helping me empty the dishwasher, putting away her clean clothes, dusting, etc. Every time she does three bonus chores, she gets to pick a reward. She's just recently wanted the rewards to be money, and is learning that her favorite thing (stuffed animals) costs quite a bit more than other cheapo things from the dollar bin. What an incentive to save! Great life lessons from money.

Anonymous said...

Momma Jorje:
"So with such a young boy, do you "hold" his coin purse for him, or does he keep it himself?"

We keep the coin purse in the car and then when we go out I put it in my pocket, and he can open it up and see the money he has left. He can't count it yet and has to ask me how much is in there, but that's how I hope he'll learn eventually. Sometimes I forget and leave it in the car and I just have to tell him what he has in his "account" which is more the debit card way. :)

"One of the things I've always been fearful of is that my kids will be as bad with money as we are (as our parents are, etc.) and this looks like a great way to start out with better teaching."

I was trying to keep the article short and so dropped a long explanation that I didn't get an allowance growing up, and it wasn't until college that I really had to grapple with money in a serious way and that felt too late to me. To be honest, it wasn't just regarding money but I was very often given the "right" instructions about what to do about most everything (and I was good at following orders), so college in general was just overwhelming in having to figure out who I was and what I wanted and how to approach decisions and so forth. I think I would have appreciated doing more of that figuring out and wrestling earlier in growing up, when less was on the line, and when I had adults around who'd been in the real world a while with whom I could talk things through.

All that to say: I have no fire-sure idea how to make sure that kids don't hang onto one's "bad habits" when they grow up, but I can't imagine that being open with them about yourself and your weaknesses and encouraging them to intentionally think through and practice addressing those issues wouldn't help the situation.

Amanda said...

For a pirate, you are pretty gentle with money, Sam. ;)

I find this to be spectacular. I've been moderately against the idea of an 'allowance' for a while now, especially if it relates to 'doing chores.' However, your examples of how Mikko has handled his money is making me reconsider the idea or at least putting a different spin on it for my own sake. I love learning by doing, not forcing, and he is learning leaps and bounds about how to be responsible with money. I'm sure he will make an excellent banker as an adult. Or treasure hunter.

Anonymous said...


Amanda, I was just about to comment, and then I read your comment and realized it would be really silly to write my own since it would be the exact same as yours! LOL

Our first child is almost 3, and I have grappled with the idea of having an allowance for her . . . wondering if receiving an allowance for chores is along the lines of bribery or not.

She does have a really big thing for skittles, and for buying candy from the candy machine at the mall. To rectify this (and to save some money!) we found her her very own small candy machine at a thrift store, washed it up, filled it with skittles, and she will ask for a coin to get skittles every now and then.

The challenge of that comes when she asks for a million coins a day. That's when the Sesame Street idea of "sometimes foods" comes into play :)

Terri said...

Amazing - what amazing lessons he has learned for himself through your gentle and trusting approach. Going to the store is not something I regularly do with our kiddos and when we are there, amazingly my 3 yo hardly asks for anything! She does asks for things while at home but they are usually one-minute-wonders of things that pop in her head. But I will introduce giving her money at a young age and allowing her to get used to how it all works at an early age which as you mentioned in your comments is really important. Thanks for such a great post Sam...Lauren has a good co-writer should she need a rest with the baby.

Rachael @ The Variegated Life said...

I'm astonished to see just how much both you and Mikko have learned in such a short time. And I think your experiment is brilliant. I used to ask my parents for an allowance (I wanted to do chores, too, really), but never got one. My mother said something about preferring to treat me, or whatever. But I wanted to learn how to handle money, save, make decisions. I also wanted to learn about taking care of a home. Of course, at the time I was much older than Mikko. But just look at how much of what I wanted to learn he is already learning, and at a much younger age!

Anonymous said...

Amanda, Amyables:

"I've been moderately against the idea of an 'allowance' for a while now, especially if it relates to 'doing chores.'"
"...wondering if receiving an allowance for chores is along the lines of bribery or not."

I didn't touch in the article on this common aspect of an allowance, but so far we haven't tied allowance to chores. We also haven't instituted a deduction in allowance for "being bad" or anything. I can't say for sure if those things will change with time (it's only been a few weeks after all), but I do share the general squeamishness about using money as a reward/punishment.

In real life of course money is the ultimate in being rewarded for what someone wants you to do, and it costs you something if you want to, say, break the speed limit or pay your bills late. So it's a very real-world experience of money.

On the other hand, it feels weird for me in a family scenario to have things on a monetized scale, where the emphasis can easily become one of "earning" parental affection as the money is usually given for things that the parent would appreciate having done. Or at least a concern that the child might experience it that way.

But we haven't instituted structured daily chores yet, so I'm not yet ready to opine on what would work or not work. (Except for one thing: We should probably call them something other than "chores" -- what a terrible way to make them sound interesting.) I figure that determining family chores is a process that will take some experimentation, some trial and error. We'll learn as we go.

Tmuffin.com said...

This is so cool! Who would have thought that introducing an allowance at such a young age would instill such complex concepts in a 4-year-old mind? Well, I guess you did. It's so interesting to see how this played out.

Sylvia@MaMammalia said...

Wow, wow, wow! What a great idea! I am totally impressed and inspired to hear how Mikko has approached his allowance. It sounds like the math part will come sort of incidentally. There seem to be much deeper and important lessons going on. I will definitely introduce an allowance to my son when he gets a bit older (I think he'd be more interested in tearing bills right now)!

Anonymous said...

I am completely blown away by this. I never had an allowance as a child and was a terrible saver. As soon as I got even a little bit of money I had to buy something. This is amazing. I love how giving Mikko has remained through all of this (even if it is only two weeks) it speaks volumes about your parenting style. Thanks for sharing your perspective Crackerdog!

Unknown said...

This is wonderful! I love that you took a chance with this allowance experiment and it's turning out to be so surprising and delightful. And I love the snorkel mask look, very superhero!

Patti @ Jazzy Mama said...

Three of my four children receive an allowance and they each treat their money differently. It has been hard but rewarding to stand back and watch as they each spend or save their money. There have been many regrets already and many times I've had to bite by tongue to not say "I told you so!"

For me, the giving of an allowance has really taught me how to observe my children without trying to control or manipulate their choices.

You will really enoy seeing if your second son has spending habits that differ from Mikko's.

Anonymous said...

"what if he wanted to buy something you weren't comfortable with him having? A huge box of crap candy..."

Your suggestions of conversations to have with Kieran seem like good ones -- I think that's the key thing, to allow it to be a thing that opens up doors to talk.

Now, of course, in the article I mentioned that Mikko did buy a big bag of crap candy, and I let him go for it. What's interesting is that after the first day he's moderated himself pretty well about it, and I didn't need to jump in and restrict him. If he had wanted to eat all 80 Dum-Dums in one sitting and not eat any dinner, that might have been a different story. I guess the approach I'm using now (and he's showing himself to be mostly responsible right now, so it's easy to think it's a good approach, but maybe later on it may have to change) is that I intend to step in only after something gets to be a habit. If he's _always_ borrowing money from tomorrow, or he's _always_ buying candy and eating the whole bag, or he's always getting violent toys and pretending to shoot things, etc. etc., then I might think about a stronger conversation or perhaps limits on things. But so far he's just experimenting with buying different things and seeing what he likes, and deciding for himself what wasn't a good idea to have bought. The trial-and-error part is means he'll make errors, and it's what he doesn't self-correct from something that may be an error that I'll need to step in, and ask him from his point of view why he's doing this thing or that thing to see if the root of the action is dangerous or just what I'm seeing from my more adult interpretation of what he's doing. (See anecdote about wind-up airplanes above.)

Incidentally, since the allowance started and he can buy candy for himself, he'll now actually eat less crap than before if he's wanting to get a truck or toy later in the day. Last night he asked for chicken, grapes, and watermelon for dinner (we ate at the grocery store) rather than his usual begging for Cheetos and ice cream, because he knew we were going to a store with Matchbox cars later and he would have had to spend allowance on the "treats," whereas healthier foods are free to him.

Amy said...

Wow, what a great play-by-play and analysis of using an allowance! I will have to tuck this post away until my one year old is ready :) Thanks for the insights and the adorable mask pics. I laughed out loud at the one with Alrik and the mask :)

LinZk said...

Brilliant! I miss you all!

Shana said...

What a cool idea! My little guy is a bit young for this I think (plus we rarely go to stores with things he wants to buy). I'll have to keep this around for the next year or so.

Jenny said...

this is a great idea!!! my daughter is in her I WANT stage and I had always thought that she was too young to be given an allowance. let us try this with her. thanks for sharing!!

Bill at FamZoo said...

Great concrete examples of how an allowance, when used properly, can help teach good money habits. Love the delightful pictures and the "learn by doing" philosophy too!


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