From Allowances to Bribes

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”Allowance – How Much?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I want to give my 8-year-old an allowance because it would be a good way to teach him to be money conscious. I don’t know how much a good amount is. What would you recommend?


Dear Saving:

I am against allowances for children. This can foster a tendency to expect handouts during their lives and then they do not really learn to earn what they want or need. To me, an allowance, if you can call it that, can be appropriate when a child does something or is compensated for doing something out of the ordinary such as washing the car for dad, or painting the trash can — in other words, something other than the regularly assigned chores. This is the money that they save to put toward something that they want (as opposed to need), such as a walkman or a toy.

One parent taught his 9-year-old to save by opening a savings account in the child’s name and encouraging him to deposit in it the money that he saved from doing extra chores. “This is how you can save toward what you want to buy,” he explained to his son. “This is earned money from doing extra things.” Children should not be compensated or bribed into doing chores, homework and sharing the responsibility of the upkeep of the home. If a child, on his/her own volition, takes on a special project, then compensation can be awarded. Other than that, to me an allowance is nothing more than a bribe.

”Bribes – How to Stop Them?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My wife has started rewarding our kids when they do chores by giving them money. I see this as a bribe; she calls it their allowance. How can I make it clear it her that paying our kids to do chores is more like a bribe than an allowance?


Dear Frustrated:

The Q & A above, addressed to “Saving,” offers an explanation as to my opinion about bribes. I will reiterate that in my opinion, bribes are unhealthy because they tend to foster immoral behavior.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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