Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Club Thursday (on Friday) | Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

Wednesday was physically a rough day for me.  I had a hard time sitting up because of the pinch on my sciatic nerve.  I had gotten halfway through typing this post for Thursday when I just had to lie down.  I went to my Mommy-to-Be massage appointment (that Brian has been trying to talk me into) and loved every moment of it.  She found the nerve itself and pushed, rubbed, pressed, and worked on it until I was able to walk out of her office without a limp.  It was by no means a massage for relaxation, but it did what I needed it to do.  I can walk!  For those of you who were praying for me, thanks!  I'm on the mend!

We are reading through the book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman.  All direct quotes are in bold type.

Today we will look at the last section of chapter 3 which deals with allowance, accountability, chores, and responsibilities.  I loved this section!  Although some of it is for our use further down the road, it gave us some great ideas and made us think of ways we can use chores in our home to teach accountability.  My parents used chores (we were home schooled growing up, so we had to pitch in around the house) and I believe that is how Faye (my sister) and I learned to keep house.  We were taught by the use of chores.

Training children to be accountable and responsible not only takes time; it also takes strategy. One of the best strategies I know is the use of the allowance to help children become accountable  and responsible.


I suggest to the families I counsel that each child get a different amount of money for allowance (unless, of course, you have set of twins). Age is a good criterion as any on which to base  the amount of an allowance, and it is logical that the older the child, the more his allowance should be.

Another obvious rule that most parents understand about the allowance is that it should come to each child on a particular day each week or month.

Because Addie is three, we have not even tackled the allowance issue, however, when Ian arrives, it will probably be something we look into as she begins to help us more and will be expected to do certain tasks on her own.  For someone as small as she is, I think fifty cents a week is a great place to start.  The older she gets, the bigger her allowance gets.  When Ian reaches three and a half (for the purpose of fairness), he will begin at a fifty cent allowance regardless of how much Addie is getting at that point. 

I remember, for myself, loving Fridays because that was the day we got our allowance.  I agree with Dr. Leman that having a particular day for children to look forward to, in terms of allowance is a good thing.  As adults who receive(d) paychecks, we always know (knew) what day are (were) paid, and that anticipation is a big help in getting through the rough days. 

I have found, however, that one thing some parents fail to understand is that an allowance is something each child should be allowed to spend as he or she sees fit.

We try to help our children see that ideally some of their allowance should be given to God, some should be saved, and the rest can be spent as the child sees fit.

I'm not sure I totally and completely agree with this statement.  We would certainly never put our child in front of a stove and allow them to use it as they see fit.  Money can be just as dangerous as a stove if not used the right way. 
  • Children need to be taught early on the proper and correct use of money.  God is always paid first (we believe in the 10% tithe and any extra is offering). 
  • Children also need to learn how to save.  Yes, spending is fun, but spending has a short term satisfaction while saving produces long term results. 
  • Children should also be taught how to spend their money. Teaching them how to spend wisely and not frivolously also teaches the patience and self-control.  
Maybe I sound a little controlling at this point, but I do not believe that money falls into one of those lessons that should be learned by trial and error when we have a chance to put our children on a great path early on.  After all, they will inherit what we leave to them and we want to make sure they are able to use it wisely for their futures and not squander it  immediately for short term pleasures. 

So how does the allowance become a tool for teaching accountability and responsibility?

Dr. Leman uses the example of a child who uses his money to buy candy while visiting the store with his mother on Monday.  They have to return to the store on Thursday and the child wants to buy more candy.  Mother says, "That's fine.  Use your allowance to buy your candy."  The child says, "But I don't have any of my allowance left."  The mother responds. "We will return to the store on Monday.  If you have more money then, you can buy your candy."  Dr. Leman says that this teaches the child that it is okay to use your money, but once you use it, it is gone.

Don't fail to see the strategic connection between allowances and the assignment of chores or responsibilities to each child.

What happens when the children don't meet their responsibilities, when they don't do their chores? ...in a home using Reality Discipline, encouragement and discipline are the order of the day.  When a child doesn't do his chores by a predetermined time, Mom and Dad move in swiftly and calmly to deal with the situation.

I believe the training ground for life ought to be the home.  We need to begin to hold children accountable for their decisions.

Dr. Leman recommends that allowance is not given based on the chores done.  It is given simply because you are a member of the family.  However, if a child fails to do his chores, then a part of his allowance is used to pay the family member who completed the chore for him.  In the real world, if we don't want to do a job ourselves, we often have to pay for he service to be done by someone else.  We are teaching our children the reality of the real world by using this same principal in relation to chores.

The bad news about chores is that they have to be done; the good news is that they can change,

In fact I surprise alot of parents with my recommendation to give older children less to do..  My reasoning is this: I believe that as a child grows older and gets into high school he faces much more pressure by of academic challenges and extracurricular activities.  I believe that high schooler's chores in the home should decrease and that the younger children should take up the slack.

The challenge for parents is to keep moving responsibilities downward in the family and to be ever that the younger children should have the opportunity to pitch in on an equal basis.

I think this a great rule of thumb.  However, it is important to tell the older child that because they have more time, it is important for them to use it wisely: studying, practices, a part-time job, etc.  This extra time that they now have is not for loafing around, hanging out with friends, or anything like that.  If the parent sees that proper use of time is not being made, then it is obvious that the older child is still not mature enough to have the extra time.

Personally, I think that is why so many freshman college students get pulled into the whole freshman party scene.  They have had no guidance on the proper use of their time while they were at home and now they do not know what to do with all of this time that they find themselves with. 

In many homes today, in suburban America in particular, finding chores for children is almost a lost art.

I remember back during my teaching days, a mother came to me and asked if it was time for her to start giving her 10 year old daughter chores around the house because her daughter had no sense of personal responsibility. She asked if I thought folding towels was a sufficient chore for her daughter.  I had to hold back the surprise in my voice as I told her that her daughter was definitely old enough for chores and that folding towels was a start but definitely not the end.

As an elementary girl, I was definitely expected to be a child, and I have many memories of just being outside, playing to my hearts content, being so dirty when I came in (my how we change!), and catching bugs and grasshoppers (did I mention how much we change?). However, with all of those good growing childhood times, I distinctly remember having chores to do.  Setting the table, helping with the dishes, making my own bed, keeping my side of the room clean, etc. 

As I got older and Mom began to home school us (when we moved up to Staten Island and then New Jersey), our chore load increased, and yet I can remember plenty of outdoor playtime still in our schedule.  Because our home in New Jersey had no dishwasher, I was responsible for cleaning up the kitchen and washing the dishes, and Faye was responsible for drying them and putting them away.  I also helped out a great deal with the laundry.  On some of Mom's busier weeks, she would also ask us to do some dusting or clean a bathroom.  Because chores started so early for us, and because Mom was sacrificing a great deal of her own time to home school us, helping out with our chores and pitching in with other chores was never a big deal for us (although for a time, I absolutely hated washing dishes!).

With Addie, we have already begun to give her chores.  She sets the table for dinner, carries in the light grocery bags, and carries some of our purchases to their designated rooms (In fact, on Thursday, I thanked her for helping me so much with the purchases from our quick trip to Publix. She said, "Yeah! I need a break!"  Seriously?) She is also responsible for picking up her toys and putting them away. 

These are all age appropriate chores, they keep her feeling like a productive member of the family, and she will never feel that her time is being intruded on by our assigning her to do chores because it will always have been a part of her life.  As mentioned above, the challenge for us will be in passing her chores down to Ian as other chores are assigned to her. 

But I do love a good challenge!

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