Teaching Kids Responsibility - SmartMom

Teaching Kids Responsibility: Chores and Money Management

Photo by Luisa Espinosa

Entitlement is a terrible thing. It’s is not the kind of belief we want our children to possess and teaching kids responsibility is a great way to combat it.

Wait, what does entitlement have to do with teaching kids responsibility regarding chores and money management?

A lot. It is one of the dreaded outcomes of not having enough discipline for the said things.

Oh, if only we have tons of money, right? “If only I have enough money, I’d hire someone to do everything so that my kids wouldn’t have to lift a finger.” “The rich have it easy. They don’t have to worry about such things.” These are some of the sentiments we often have because, after all, we want only the best for our kids. It’s quite obvious that not having a lot of money is bad; having too much is practically the same in terms of teaching kids responsibility.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, psychologist James Grubman stated this simple truth: “A parent has to set limits. But that’s one of the most difficult things for immigrants of wealth, because they don’t know what to say when having the excuse of ‘We can’t afford it’ is gone. They [parents] don’t want to lie and say, ‘We don’t have enough money’, because if you have a teenager, the teenager says, “Excuse me. You have a Porsche, and mom has a Maserati.’ The parents have to switch from ‘No, we can’t’ to ‘No, we won’t.” The latter is much harder.

So what I’m trying to say is this: it will always boil down to how we discipline our kids. Here are some pointers to consider:


Go easy on the reward

Throwing trash away, putting his toys back to the shelves, or helping mom clear the table is not a big deal. Don’t make it such. Saying ‘good job’ and ‘thank you’ are enough. Buying your kids gifts are too much. They didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize; they simply placed soiled clothes in the hamper. It’s not an achievement. They are expected to do this. They will do this when they’re all grown up. Let them know that.

Make a list

Jot down the things your child needs to do every day, and let him/her know that he/she needs to do it. Repetition is what will make the task stick. Go easy, though. You’re not running a boot camp! Simple tasks such as placing the plate in the dishwasher or folding his blanket in the morning are enough. Be crystal clear that failure to do the given task will lead to consequences – no iPad for a week, no TV for three days, etc. Kimberly Coleman of Mom in the City states it best when she told her boys that “they (boys) get to choose their actions, but there are consequences (good or bad) for their choices.”

Show them how and tell them why

You can’t just tell your 10-year-old daughter to dust the shelves, and expect her to know how. Show them, and while you’re at it, tell them why it should be done.


Know thyself

What is your personal rule about money? Naturally, you cannot teach your kids to do the right thing, and then carry out the opposite.

Respect for money

Instead of repeatedly telling them that ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’, show them what money is for, and what it can do. Money is important. It is a reality. Money is a privilege. Teach them the power it holds. If we don’t let our kids know what it can do, they will never understand how it works. Tell them where it goes, and how to acquire it. You can say, “I work so that I can have enough to pay our bills, buy food, etc. The rest goes to this and that.”

Teach them to save

If they want something, they should know how to save for it. Teach them how to save a percentage of their weekly allowance in order to buy the toy that they like. Anyone will appreciate something better when it is achieved through delayed gratification.

Teach them to earn

Obviously, it’s not enough to save when there’s nothing to save. Even at an early age, you can let your kids know how it feels to earn money via trade. They can sell lemonade during summers, or sell old toys they don’t want anymore.

Teach them how to spend

You have to let your kids know that spending on needs is far more important than mere wants. State the needs that they should spend on, and if there’s extra money, they buy their wants. They have to understand that they will eventually sell the wants they bought for the things that they need.

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