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Alternative to Allowance

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    Alternative to Allowance

    I know there is an old argument about kids and allowance and should they have to earn it, etc. I just wanted to share a system we are implementing with our kids that I'm pretty proud of. Also, open to additional ideas or tweaks.

    I want my kids to learn the value of money, but also how it interacts with time and effort. What we are doing is a point system for rewards. At the fundamental level, it is basically work for rewards. However, I'm having them help determine the point values. Some of the things we talk about are how long a task takes, how difficult it is, and how gross it is (like cleaning the toilet) and whether or not those things should have an impact on the points it earns.

    The second piece we are discussing is the amount of points necessary to earn a reward. We look at the actual $$, distance, time, and even difficulty of including their severely autistic brother in calculating the "value" of the reward.

    My favorite part, though, is how points are allocated. All awards with point cost will be posted. When a child earns a point, they can apply it toward any reward they want. They can determine if they want to work toward a short term goal, like getting an ice cream, to a longer term goal like an overnight trip to a water park. They can team up to reach a shared goal faster.

    One thing I'm finding difficult is fairness. We haven't rolled out this new system yet, so input would be great. These rewards are given to everyone together, so there is the potential of one child getting lazy while the other one earns all the points and earns a reward for himself and his brothers.

    A little background might help. We have 4 boys in our home. 1 is 17 and has his own chores and rewards, although he would not be excluded from these things, especially the family trips. 2 of the boys are about the same age and ability. There have been discipline issues and 1 is mildly autistic. These are the 2 that the point system is geared toward. I want it to be as self-governing as possible to reduce arguments and whining. Our 4th child is severely autistic. We have a separate system for him to earn small praises and rewards multiple times a day and, like the older one, he is included in all family rewards as appropriate.

    Any ideas on keeping it fair? Any way to make it more educational in a fiscal sense?

    Originally posted by annibe11e View Post
    These rewards are given to everyone together, so there is the potential of one child getting lazy while the other one earns all the points and earns a reward for himself and his brothers.
    You need to change the system so this can't happen. You can't have a system that provides an incentive to a child who hasn't done anything to earn it.

    Each kid should have their own reward system. If both kids want to go to the waterpark, they need to agree to both work toward that goal and the trip shouldn't happen until they have both achieved the necessary points (unless you are willing and able to take the trip without both kids).

    A system where someone gets rewards for doing nothing is destined to fail.

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.


      Your point system makes me think a lot of using story points to estimate tasks in agile (or scrum). Story points are a way to judge the relative size of work without trying to reduce everything into hours. I'm not sure how familiar you or anyone else on this forum is with agile, so I apologize in advance if I lose anyone. Agile is most common in software development, but I've seen it applied in a variety of places. When done with the right attitude, it can be a powerful tool. It's something I'm pretty passionate about it, and it shapes the way I see a lot of challenges in life.

      In agile, we shy away from thinking about individual contributions. It's all about the team coming together to accomplish as much as possible and meet its goals as a group. If one team member contributes more than another on a certain task, that's okay as long as everyone is doing what they can. When things go wrong, the team focuses on what needs to change to make things go right without worrying about whose "fault" it is that something isn't working. Mostly, discussion about what can change and be improved happens in regular meetings called retrospectives, where teams are encouraged to talk both about things that are going well and things that aren't. With the right group of people, these meetings can be incredibly productive.

      I'd try launching the system you have planned and letting the boys talk through the challenges as they come up. Set up regular meetings where they can discuss how progress towards their goals is going, and allow them to make suggestions as to how the system could be improved. Coach them a bit about how to bring up complaints without making personal attacks, i.e. saying "We could go to the water park sooner if we worked together to get these things done" is good, but saying "We can't go to the water park because my brother is lazy and never does anything" is bad.

      You don't say how old the two you're focused on are, and I'm not entirely at what age kids are going to have the maturity to handle this sort of thing anyway. But, I'd err on the side of giving your boys a lot of freedom to work out the issues as they come up however they see fit.


        wow, has it really reached this point where a simple allowance has to be this complicated?

        I doubt TomHole's bonus structure wasn't anywhere near as complicated. I know my bonus calculation isn't this difficult.

        Now, if this is more of a game to entice them to participate, that might not be so bad... but still....