Archive for the ‘allowances’ category

Summer time is Chore Time

July 15, 2015
Chores teach kids grit, self confidence and self-discipline

My 17-month-old grandson helps with the Brussells sprouts preparation. He was curious about what I was doing, so I included him. It’s never too early to get kids started contributing around the house.

With all of the busyness of the school year, summer can offer some open-ended time to catch up on family meetings and re-establish a routine of chores. Kids thrive upon routines. It’s not too late to establish one for the summer. Have a family meeting and ask the kids what outings they want to take this summer. Challenge them to think of some free and local adventures, like walking up a creek in old sneakers.

Ask them what jobs they household jobs they want to take on for the summer. Encourage them to reach a little beyond their ability if they offer. For example, a nine-year-old can capably prepare a very simple dinner that uses prepared foods. When his/her family appreciates the food and effort, that is high encouragement and motivation to do it again.

When I was about 10, my mother assigned me the job of making dessert for the family, because all of the other jobs, like making dinner, had been taken by my eight other siblings. Most of them were older and it seemed like I could never catch up. I had a great deal of fun experimenting with homemade desserts. My mother rarely complained about the mess I made and was willing to pay for any ingredient. In those days, I hopped on my bike and rode a half-mile to the A&P to buy whatever was needed.

The result? I love to bake desserts and the confidence spilled over when I learned to cook other foods as well. I can still remember the feeling of satisfaction of contributing to our family’s dinners.

Summer is another opportunity to establish the routine of family dinners or at least breakfast together. Such connection, influence and closeness cannot be found anywhere else, or so conveniently, right in your own home. Move the meal outdoors if you can. My oldest daughter remembers, “Having dinner in front of the fireplace on the coffee table in winter made me SO happy.” Kids are easily pleased. Cherish that while you can.

My book on chores offers more information on how to chores can teach your kids grit, self-confidence and self-discipline while using the effective tools of family meetings. It’s available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback. “Raising Able: How Chores Empower Families” by Susan Tordella. There are plenty of stories of mistakes I made and successes, too, so it’s light summer reading.

One of the main things I learned about chores from surveying 500+ people ages 8 to 90 was the reason they did chores was simple: “My parents expected me.” Money is one of the lowest motivators for people of all ages. According to Daniel Pink, author of “Drive,” the most powerful motivators are mastery — learning something new and doing it well, autonomy — having freedom and choices over a task; and power — control or influence over a situation or people.

Most of what we parents do is free and is expressed through our body language and our actions. Our kids are always watching us. Get going today and set up a family meeting and talk about chores and family fun. Remember to encourage their input and give them the opportunity to run the meeting.

Bully-free parenting

December 5, 2011
my child is the bully, anti-bullying, positive parenting, positive discipline, hitting, spanking, yelling, parenting about, teens, toddlers,preschoolers, teenagers, tweens, elementary age, "alfred adler" , natural and logical consequences, encouragement, family meetings,
Many bullies are made at home

As the young mother of three children born in 3.5 years, I thought “discipline” meant “punishment.” Through parenting workshops, I learned that “discipline” means “to teach.” Parents are teaching every minute of every day by our example, and how we manage others. To manage people means to get other people to do what we want.

My question to you today is How do you manage your children? Do you yell, spank, praise, reward and punish? Or, are you their friend and set few limits?

Children feel unsafe in both extremes. The greatest challenge for parents is to manage our emotions because children try our patience. When they don’t do what we want, when they make bad decisions and put their safety at risk, we feel anxious, worried and frustrated that they don’t listen to us. Therefore we are justified in punishing them.

The problem with punishment is that it often breeds resentment, rebellion and revenge, and ironically, NOT the behavior change we wish to see.

Tots to teens need limits set with respect, love and logic. Children need to experience the results of their decisions. My favorite line is “Give them enough rope to burn but not enough to hang” so they can learn to choose well and find out life’s rules.

Here are some examples of how tots to teens can learn from their decisions.

a. A 10-year-old spent his allowance on candy on Saturday and asks Dad on Sunday, “Can you buy me this video game?” “Son, I bet you can save up your allowance for a few weeks and buy that game.”

b. A 3-year-old refuses to eat his favorite vegetable at dinner and has a tantrum because his parents won’t give him dessert. “You’d really like some dessert. You know the rule in our family. People who eat their vegetables get dessert.”

c. A 15-year-old doesn’t clean the bathroom as promised by Friday at 7 pm. Mom explains in a kind and firm voice, “When the bathroom is cleaned, I’ll give you the ride.”

d. A 7-year-old forgets her mittens on a cold day and her hands get chapped.

e. A 12-year-old chooses not to pick up his room. It becomes difficult to walk in the room and it l from dirty clothes. He has trouble finding clean clothes to wear to school and doesn’t care.

In the first three examples, can you see how the parent explains the logic behind the decisions and in the last two, the parent can allow the youngsters to experience the results of their choices without intervening. The first three are “logical consequences” because they require parental action. The last two are “natural consequences” because the outcome happens without parental action. These are the most powerful and respectful ways for children to mature that sustain a positive parent-child connection.

Here are some bullying responses to the same scenarios, that teach children those who are bigger, meaner, verbally or physically abusive, louder and stronger will win. Verbal abuse can be as devastating as physical abuse.

a. “You’re never going to learn to manage your money.”

b. “Go to your room, you’re being a bad boy. I’m going to spank you if you don’t stop crying.”

c. “What do you think I am? The maid and the driver? You’re lazy and self-centered. All I ask is that you clean the lousy bathroom once a week. I’m going to take away your video games for a week.”

d. “How many times did I tell you to bring your mittens? You’re going to catch cold and die of pneumonia. What will your teacher think if you go to school without mittens? You always make me look bad. I want to be proud of you.”

e. “You must clean your room today or else you’ll be grounded for a month. I’m sick and tired of you disrespecting the house your father and I work so hard to get. You’re going to amount to nothing if you don’t learn some respect. What will your friends and teachers think when you go to school with the same dirty T-shirt day after day?”

In the last two, parents can allow youngsters to live with the consequences of their decisions. This shows mutual respect. Parents model problem solving and behavior management without punishment, reward and praise.

Parents can teach children to choose wisely by being kind and firm, saying as little as possible and using natural and logical consequences that are related, reasonable and respectful (thanks to Jane Nelsen for the Three Rs of natural and logical consequences).

Make allowances pay

October 17, 2011
Managing money for family vacations is critical for kids and money. An allowance for children and tweens can be used to teach them how to budget and save, and to NOT spend more than they have. It's OK to say no. Money and children is a complex topic that can be simplified through allowances. Children and money often comes up in the media. Let kids experience not having money or having to delay gratification. De-emphasize buying THINGs. Can you live without things? Go to yard sales to teach kids how to spend money wisely.

These kids on vacation carry their own backpacks -- hopefully with lunch inside. An upcoming vacation or holiday are excellent opportunities to teach kids how to save money.

While watching the Patriots yesterday, I took note of commercials because I rarely watch TV. “Aunt Sue, how do you know what to buy unless you watch TV?” my nephew asked dryly.

I don’t need to buy much. I might want to buy more than I need. Managing my emotions around my wants has been critical to money peace.

Spending less than you earn is a valuable life lesson that parents can teach kids from age five on.

Five year olds can learn to manage small amounts of money through a weekly allowance not tied to chores. Give her 50 cents and allow her to lose it, give it away, save it or spend it on whatever she wants. Introduce the idea of saving for a special occasion, such as an excursion, day trip or holiday.
When she gets in first grade, increase the allowance so she can choose whether to buy lunch a few days a week or make a brown bag lunch and save money. Put “allowance” on the family meeting agenda. Kids as young as 3 years old can participate in a 10 minute family meeting that includes compliments, new business, a snack and family fun. See my tip sheet on family meetings.
Talk about how they can budget their allowance, plan, donate and save for special occasions. Don’t do it for them. Allow them to experience spending all of their money and your kind firm refusal to be a money machine. Unless you want to undermine their money management by showing them that you’ll always bail them out of financial problems, and they should be able to buy everything they want.
Award allowances without tying them to chores because they contribute to the family welfare, they also share in the benefits. If you bribe them , you’re teaching them to manipulate people with money, and to work for money.
According to research, money is the LOWEST form of motivation. Have you ever worked only for the money or had an employee only in it for the money? Both are bankrupt.
It takes time to learn to manage money and develop internal motivation to contribute to a family and society. Allowances teach children to manage small amounts of money with guidance, and to patronize yard sales.
By the time children are old enough to “want” things, they are old enough to earn money outside of the family by pet care, yard work, mother’s helper, lemonade stands and more creative ideas. I discourage the practice of paying kids to do special chores to earn money for special purchases.
Do not feel sorry for them! They can work outside of the family for what they want. Delayed gratification encourages the priceless lesson of self-discipline and avoids addiction to “stuff.”
My husband bought his third new car ever on Friday. The first new car was in 1981, the second — a work truck — was bought in 2005. Bob drove used cars while we paid for food and housing, shoes, braces, school trips, fun things, teen beater cars, and college education for our four children.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to have a new car that we could have lived without. One of the things I appreciate about him the most is his healthy and generous relationship to money. You can nurture this in your children by your example, encouraging them to live within their means, and setting kind and firm limits.

Back to School 1: shopping

August 22, 2011
girls who love to dress up can be encouraged to do it without moms and dads interference. Girls can learn to make good fashion choices. Stay out of their way. Teach them self-discipline and good decision making in Boston, Mass. through chores. Chores will teach them how to make good choices. Clothing and back to school shopping can be done without arguments.
My oldest daughter Casey chose black patent leather Mary Janes as her school shoes in first grade.

One of the most difficult parenting lessons I had to learn was to allow my kids free choice. I wanted them to do what I WANTED! When I started taking parenting workshops, the leader, a savvy mom of five kids advised, “If your daughter wants to choose black patent leather Mary Janes as her school shoes, let her.”

I hated this advice, but I knew that like most of what I learned in the workshops, I was wrong for wanting Casey to choose sensible school shoes for first grade. It helped to know other parents faced the same dilemma and allowed their daughter to make their own decisions so they could learn self-trust, and the natural consequences of their choices.
Casey wore those black patent leather shoes daily  with a dress, which she loved, along with Barbies. No, I was not the kind of parent to prohibit Barbies or guns. Moderation is better than creating forbidden fruits.
Childhood is all about learning to making good decisions, establishing self-trust, confidence and nurturing a child’s self-esteem. Allowing them to choose their own clothing as much as possible is empowering. We might not always agree, but parents have enough bigger issues than clothing to worry about. Clothing is costume. Character  counts.

I had many arguments over back-to-school shopping with my two daughters until I realized how to avoid it. I put “school shopping” on the family meeting agenda [see free tip sheet] in August. We negotiated a reasonable budget for clothes and what type I’d pay for. They planned to bring “their own money” to supplement. It’s fun to see what they’re willing to spend their money on.

I’ve wasted many dollars convincing them to buy something I liked, only to see it in the give-away bag later. Sigh. I eventually learned to respect their opinions, especially when it came to clothes. Like all lessons worth learning, I paid the price.

Today, I love to go shopping at a thrift store with my daughters. We find some wonderful fun bargains along with clothes I would never pay full-price for. We have fun. They give me honest feedback on what looks good and what doesn’t. They could have more tact in this area.  If your kids love clothes, money can stretch a long way at thrift stores.

The second part of back-to-school shopping is school supplies. I swear by L.L. Bean backpacks from the return department with botched custom embroidery. These backpacks wear like iron for multiple years.

We argued over school supplies because the kids always wanted to buy everything new. After school starts, review the lists of supplies sent home by teachers and have a family meetings. Figure out what supplies you already have or can be purchased second-hand, like the T-111 calculator for high school math that costs $80+. After scrounging around the house,  agree on another budget and shop the sales together.

Learning to set a budget and live within your means is a valuable lesson. My four kids are 23-30 years old, have NO credit card debt and live within their income. The ones who earn more spend more. The ones who earn less spend less. They have money for what’s important, like Mary Janes.