Allowance or monetary award for 6 year old

I have a 6 year old whose friends have their own money, so he is asking for allowance or how he can earn money.  I don't feel right giving him an allowance as I don't want him to get used to getting money for nothing and I want him to get into the habit of working for money so that he values it more.  He gets cash from grandparents and us sometimes for holidays or as gifts (for finishing K, getting a new belt in taekwondo, etc.) and gets to spend a certain portion of it as he wishes (candies, little toys, etc.) and has to save the rest for larger purchases that are approved by us (lately most are video games).  But his friends are getting allowances so he wants to increase the frequency of when he gets money so he does not want to wait for holidays and special events.  We have agreed to give him 25 cents for every small book he reads by himself after the first book per day that he has to do as part of homework, which he is pretty happy about though it is a small amount.  He is great helper around the house (for his age) and I don't want to pay him for regular chores since he has to do it to contribute to the household he lives in, but I was wondering what others let their kids do at home to earn money that is not a regular chore around the house.  He is too young to work outside the home, so if he wants to make money we have to come up with ideas of things for him to do.  If you chose not to do a no-strings attached allowance, what opportunities do you provide your young kids to earn money?

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

This might not be the answer you are looking for, but I think you either have to give him a "no strings allowance" or pay him for normal chores he does as a household member.  Personally, I agree with you that it's better if kids do regular chores without getting paid for them, the same way adults in the family do laundry or cook or whatever, without getting paid specifically for that work.  But the adults in the family, whether they have jobs or not, do get spending money, and the kids should too.  It seems unfair if he is part of the family when it comes to doing chores, but not part of the family when it comes to sharing in the money.  Also, it will really help him with money management if he knows he has a regular amount coming in each week.  Mind you, the allowance doesn't have to be a lot, especially at age 6.  And it doesn't have to be as much as his friends get, either!! But if you really don't feel comfortable with a regular allowance just for being part of the family, then I think you should pay him for chores.  

Just wondering, why is it OK to not pay him for chores, but pay him for reading extra-curricular books?

Seems like it would actually be better to flip that. I mean, one is generally thankless tasks and the other is something you want to engender as a self-fulfilling/enriching activity, right?

If you want to keep paying him for books, that's fine, but I have to agree with the previous poster who said that it's unfair for him to be a part of the family when sharing the workload, but not a part of the family when sharing the financial gains that said workload ends up enabling (even if indirect).

Also adding that you don't have to pay your kid "per chore" but a regular amount contingent on being good about chores seems like it would get you the benefit of instilling the habitual regularity of chores without directly associating doing that for the sole purposes of monetary gain.

I disagree with paying kids for doing things like reading books and getting a new belt. I wouldn't want my kids to do those things for money but for the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

We give each kid an allowance (25 cents/week for every year old they are so our 6 year old gets $1.50/week) and everyone is expected to do chores because they are a member of the household and everyone needs to contribute. 6 year olds can feed and water pets, take out trash and recycling, unload about half the dishwasher (silverware, pots and pans, any plastic stuff that is put away low down), collect mail, clean their room, help fold laundry, sweep, etc. Our oldest is 12 and soon will start getting a bigger allowance once school starts in the fall. But he also does stuff like make dinner once a week and babysit the youngest and clean the bathrooms.

Check out this blog. I think he pays his kid per mile walked/scooted/biked. Lots of other interesting ideas too:


i have a seven year old and I expect him to do chores because he is a member of the household. I give him allowance so that he can learn about $. I give him $2/wk that he can spend as he wishes and I put $2 in a jar. When he has $20 in the jar he gets to spend it on something that we discuss and agree on. I think the saving up part allows him to experience what it's like to save up and have a bigger chunk to spend and then he also gets the smaller weekly allowance for a more immediate gratification experience. 

Have you heard of the book make Your Kid A Miney Genius (Even If You're Not)? It talks about how to build good money habits and some of the ideas are counterintuitive (like giving them money every week that isn't earned by doing chores). While I only have a 2 yo, I have several friends with older children and they said they've seen some great habits forming by only 4 or 5. 

Its so great that your asking this question and I'll be reading other responses to hear about differebt experiences!

I strongly disagree with paying children for reading books. Reading should not be associated with chores. He is 6 years old: why not a sticker for every book he reads, and then a cool book as a reward when he gets a certain number of stickers? It's great that he helps around the house, and his allowance can increase as his responsibilities increase.

I agree that it sends a strange message to pay our kids for nothing and also for regular chores when that should just be part of contributing to the household. But I also wouldn't pay my kids for reading books. I want them to think of reading as a really fun thing that they look to, as entertainment, and paying them for it, I think, sends the opposite message—that it's so onerous one must be paid to do it.

We have solved this dilemma in our house by paying our son for extra chores, things above and beyond the regular daily chores (cleaning room, taking out garbage, putting dishes away) such as pulling weeds, sweeping the porch, watering the house plants. These are not things he was great at as a 6 year old, but we let him do it as best he could in order to give him a "real" job he could get paid for.  

I have friends who have a little board posted with "optional" chore items such as weeding a particular flower bed, trash patrol in the yard, or hose out the garbage cans. They attach a dollar amount to the chore and their kids choose what they want to do knowing exactly how much they will get for the job once it is completed well. The trick is to figure out age appropriate chores for a 6 year old. These are all chores that are outside the regular expected "helping the family chores."

The problem with paying for chores is that it means you can't say, "We are a family, and we all work together." It sounds like you are already doing a great job at making chores fun. Allowance allows you to sidestep the problem of making chores within the family economic, and gives your child the chance to learn how to spend/save small amounts of money. 

Also, there's a fair amount of research that external rewards discourage intrinsic motivation. So for getting him to read, your might want to start going to the library each week, and also talking about his reading with him which would be fun for both of you.