54

Let's assume I'm a parent and that I use this punishment, for the sake of the question.

The primary punishment I use to discipline my children is to confiscate money. It seems fairly effective in preventing them from repeating behaviors, as they only misbehave the same way once or twice after I repeatedly take their money. While I don't keep the amounts of money consistent, to throw them off, I typically take $1 for every time they:

  • use inappropriate language
  • refuse to do chores (persistently)
  • act mildly rude

And a bit more when they:

  • hit one another
  • act excessively rude
  • turn in late/missing assignments (children are homeschooled)

The most I've ever taken was $25 because I asked my daughter to walk to an activity after being quite rude and she refused.

For reference, none of the children have any steady income (oldest is 13). The younger ones receive most of their money from allowance, the older from yard work/babysitting.

So while this punishment is effective and they usually apologize/repent for their behavior, I'm not sure of the downsides of it. Are there any possible behavioral, emotional, or legal repercussions? For example, if one of my children were to tell another adult about my punishment, would I get in trouble? Or could it cause lasting resentment towards me?

This is the easiest disciplining method I've ever used, but I don't want to continue taking their money if it's going to cause problems. Any thoughts? I'm looking for any criticisms you might have.

To whom it may concern, we currently reside in the Portland area of Oregon.

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    Out of curiosity, when you say you "take their money" do you mean you're actually taking away money they've already been given or that you're simply withholding some (or all) of their allowance? – Anthony Grist Dec 12 '16 at 16:12
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    sounds to me like you know this isn't reall a great idea, and are looking for why that's true. – naomisl Dec 12 '16 at 19:07
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    @MDXF IMO, you should accept the answer which makes most sense to you rather than the one having most votes. – Aquarius_Girl Dec 13 '16 at 4:38
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    I like the answers here quite a bit, but one point that hasn't been covered that bothers me is, "I don't keep the amounts of money consistent, to throw them off". What are you trying to throw them off from? If their punishments seem random an capricious they are likely to resent them and feel that you are treating them unfairly. It is my understanding that consistency is one of the keys to good parenting – Kevin Wells Dec 13 '16 at 16:48
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    I worry that this whole thing, including some answers given to replace it, is top-down authoritarian; it sorta educates kids to be good slaves (when they don't rebel) but I worry that it's part of the greater trend that kids are learning less how to empathize with others and have free agency in a responsible, negotiated reality; and they are learning more "some answers are right, some are wrong, agree or else." I feel it's worth wondering aloud whether there's a better way to connect with our kids when they've done unpleasant things, rather than to disconnect with them via punishments. – CR Drost Dec 15 '16 at 0:45

12 Answers 12

133

I would be concerned that this form of punishment might end up teaching the wrong associations, because it artificially connects money to behavior which is not naturally about money.

For example, I would be concerned that the children end up believing:

  • the wrong behavior is ok if they are willing to pay the fine
  • two bad behaviors that happen to be fined the same are exactly equally bad
  • rich people don't need to follow rules because they can pay the fine
  • poor people are poor because they behaved badly in the past
  • in a relationship, the partner who earns more is entitled to regulate the behavior of the partner who earns less
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    3 through 5: very good points. – MD XF Dec 12 '16 at 16:42
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    All points very good! Your answer eloquently explains what I couldn't by saying problems can't be solved by throwing money at them. – anongoodnurse Dec 12 '16 at 16:54
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    They're gonna learn 3 eventually whether their parents teach it or not. – Random832 Dec 12 '16 at 19:12
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    Your first bullet is exactly the Israeli daycare paradox. – David Richerby Dec 12 '16 at 23:42
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    @Random832 Just because they may find that it happens doesn't mean that someone will grow up believing it is okay, which is essentially what we're talking about. – mbomb007 Dec 13 '16 at 18:07
41

I seriously doubt that anyone would prosecute you for "fining" your children, regardless of the amount (excluding in the thousands.) So it's not the law you need to be concerned about.

Having said that, you asked for feedback. To me, your method of disciplining your children is unjust, and it doesn't make sense. I don't see their reactions, but I can't imagine it won't backfire on you, either in the form of resentment or lessons not learned.

If you want children to behave, teaching principles and self-control is better than punishment (an ounce of prevention and all that.) Taking money consistently will not teach them why something is wrong; it will teach them that someone with power can take their money away for behaviors they disapprove of. Remember that kids learn from watching the behaviors of their parents. (A recent question dealt with unlearning bad parenting behaviors.)

If you swore often in traffic and your paycheck was reduced by $10 per episode, or if you cut in line and were fined $50, or if you spanked your child in a fit of frustration, and your boss informed you that your paycheck had been forfeited for that week, what would your reaction be? Would it be to stop those behaviors, or would you report him to the authorities?

Behaviors should have natural (or at least logical) consequences. Taking money is not a logical consequence. Not all - indeed not most - problems can be solved by throwing money at them. If a rich drunk driver seriously injured one of your children, would their giving you $150,000 seem fair punishment? Or would you rather their license be taken away and they did a stint in jail?

Children have a full set of the same emotions as adults; they just can't express them as well as adults, and have little to no real power of decision-making in the family. I believe that treating a child unjustly will breed resentment and insecurity, whereas logical, appropriate and proportional consequences give a child guidelines, choices and a sense of security.

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    "it will teach them that someone with power can take their money away for behaviors they disapprove of" Which is exactly how the world works... – NPSF3000 Dec 15 '16 at 17:02
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    @NPSF3000 Only in certain situations. In others, people will divorce you for behaviors they disapprove of. Or they will take away your children. Or they'll arrest you and incarcerate you for years. And that's to say nothing about the personal emotional consequences of immoral actions, guilt being the most obvious but not the only one. – Todd Wilcox Dec 16 '16 at 2:55
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    If you swore often in traffic and your paycheck was reduced by $10 per episode...what would your reaction be Society does use money confiscation as a means of punishment and changing behavior. If you speed in traffic or roll through a red light, you may be forced to pay hundreds of dollars as a form of punishment to not only discourage you from repeating the behavior, but also to stop you from doing it in the first place. – Johnny Dec 16 '16 at 5:17
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    You make it clear that you think "fining" them is a bad way to punish violations of the established rules. But it seems to me that you failed to offer a better alternative. If the rules (and the moral framework behind the rules) have been clearly explained to the kids, repeatedly, and violations still occur from time to time, then what do you think MD XF should be doing in terms of punishment? (When I give people constructive criticism on what they are "doing wrong," I always follow up with advice on how, specifically, they can do it better from now on!) – Lorendiac Dec 18 '16 at 22:43
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    @Lorendiac- The question did not ask for suggestions; it asked for a critique. – anongoodnurse Dec 19 '16 at 0:39
30

As Toxaris mentioned, the biggest problem with this is that most people will not consider it "punishment for misbehaving" but rather "cost for doing it".

There will be a moment where your child says "hm, $10 to punch my brother in the face? That sounds like a great deal.".

Probably not what you're going for.

I've actually encountered the adult equivalent of such a child. He literally told me "I reserve $400 a month for speeding tickets so I can drive as fast as I want all the time". That kind of thinking and behavior is dangerous. This is not the kind of person you want to raise.

Fines aren't prices for misbehavior. They are punishments to reinforce that a certain activity is wrong, but they key is to keep reinforcing that the activity is wrong, and taking away money isn't going to do that.

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    +1 - I can totally see an angry kid weighing the money forfeited vs. the satisfaction of punching his brother, and choosing to go with the punch. – anongoodnurse Dec 12 '16 at 18:07
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    @anongoodnurse Though with any predefined punishment, that will be the equation. "No video games for a week, totally worth it" – Speff Dec 12 '16 at 18:55
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    @Speff - True enough, but one of my sons punched his brother in the face. The consequence was not missed video games. He never did it again. And no, the consequence was not physical. Or financial. – anongoodnurse Dec 12 '16 at 20:33
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    @anongoodnurse Out of curiosity (feel free not to answer), what was the punishment? – MD XF Dec 13 '16 at 0:49
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    @daraos I'm hoping because sometimes, you accidentally screw up, not because you're intentionally speeding and parking illegally because you can afford it. – Erik Dec 14 '16 at 19:48
11

Legally, a child's money is usually a child's money. There is of course the obvious loophole that allows you to spend the money on behalf of the child, and the fact that law enforcement doesn't bother with such small amounts of money. So practically, there isn't a legal problem, but it may still be counted against you in a battle for custody.


Ethically, taking money from others just because you can is wrong. There's a reason why companies are not allowed to do this to their employees. It's considered a form of bullying. Teaching ethics to your children will be challenging if you take money from them for what they will on some occasions perceive to be no good reason. I realize there's a difference, but it can be hard for your children to see that difference. And on the topic of ethics: if you realize you did wrong, how much money do they ask from you, and do you give it to them?


There's also the issue of accuracy. If the punishment is too easy for you, it's literally guaranteed that you will accidentally abuse it at some point. Here I'm assuming you're judge, jury, and executioner, in which case a single bad call will mean they will be punished not because they did wrong, but because you made a mistake. Unless you never make bad calls, there will be instances where their money is taken from them no matter how good or bad they behave.


Next is the problem what you teach them. You teach them that essentially, their money is your money, since you can and will take it from them at any time for (in their mind) totally unjust and arbitrary reasons. You also teach them that if they want their money to be their money, they need to get away from you.

If you want to punish them with money, take it from their allowance, before you hand it to them - at that point it's still your money, both legally and psychologically.


Then there is the bigger problem of linking behavior to some metrics, be it good/bad child points, or money. Even if they worked, do you really want to teach them that they must adapt their behavior for money? Teach them that getting in the car with a stranger fine as long as the stranger offers enough lollies? Keep in mind your goal: You want them to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, not because they get paid to do it.


So in conclusion, if you want to avoid the issues I mentioned, do not use this method excessively (once a month is excessive), and only use it when the link with real money already exists, e.g. if they break something valuable. Every time you do this, make sure they are actually the guilty party. And never force them to hand over their money, allow them to pay through deductions in their allowance.

  • "There's a reason why companies are not allowed to do this to their employees." - umm ... annual salary of X¤ including a variable bonus based on performance anyone? – O. R. Mapper Aug 13 at 4:17
10

Assuming you're in the United States, the major legal repercussion would only be if your children had accounts under the Uniform Gift to Minors Act (or UTMA, Uniform Transfer to Minors Act which is similar). That would include money that they were gifted from others (usually grandparents or similar), which you as parent have a legal obligation to spend on their behalf. You could make an argument this was spending on their behalf (for improving their character), but it would be at least somewhat questionable.

If the money comes from other sources, though, you're more-or-less free to do as you wish with their money, until they're 18 or emancipated.

As far as whether it's a good idea, the main question I would have with it is, what is your desired goal. If your desired goal is to reinforce behavior (in a Pavlovian manner), then you'll probably accomplish this. If it's to signal your opinion that a behavior is good or bad, you'll probably accomplish this, though it may be overly complex to do so.

But if your goal is to teach them to want to behave well, this probably won't help, unless they buy into the system as well. If they don't buy in, it will be just another set of punishments, and they'll learn to game the system or just deal with it until they're 18 and able to make their own choices, but won't really learn much from it, other than that adults do arbitrary things they don't agree with.

On the other hand, if you have their buy-in for the system, it may very well be an effective system - think of it similarly to 'swear jars' or 'commitment' systems (where people put up say $100 and say they will donate to charity, say, [their weight minus 150lbs] from that $100 after 6 months). Adults do this sort of thing from time to time, and many find it quite effective.

In the case of my five year old, for example, we preferred not to have a 'behavior chart' and similar (as we want to teach him to behave well by being a good person, not by punishments and rewards). When he started kindergarten, he found that he liked the behavior chart they did there, in part because it meant he got rewards of course but also because it was simple and straightforward way of rating behavior that he could understand. Thus, we implemented the same at home at his request, and it had (has) some benefit - because we had his buy-in to the system, and thus it was not only accomplishing the Pavlovian purpose of training him to do better things, but also accomplishing the purpose of helping him improve himself due to that buy-in.

9

I don't think anyone has covered this.

You method is telling them what not to do, but not why they shouldn't do them. This will not end well for them as they will do whatever they want once they are free.

You can only punish them like this when you can control their money. Once they are financially independent from you, there's nothing you can do to punish their behavior anymore (I doubt that they will willingly hand you money they make when they are an adult). So this method will only prevent them from behave badly until then.

After they become independent, they may be free to behave badly to a certain degree, as no one will take money from them anymore. I'm talking swearing, being rude, disobey you, etc., not law breaking behaviors.

Essentially you are not teaching them why they cannot behave in certain ways. The only thing they learn is that, for example, under your surveillance, if they swear, they lose money. Instead, you need to teach them why it's not okay to swear (or do anything you have listed). Otherwise they will not learn. And once they are away from you, they might behave in all the ways you wouldn't want them to.

7

The current answers address fairly well why monetary punishments are not a great idea as your primary source of discipline,. I'd like to go a bit further though, and say that punishments, regardless of what form they take, should not be your primary source of discipline.

Your goal in parenting, generally speaking, is to raise adults who are competent in the local culture (meaning things like manners as well as how to behave in stores, on streets, etc), are kind, can keep themselves safe, and act according to a moral structure. Given that goal, the goal of helping children grow to be those kinds of adults, what can you do to further that goal?

Research suggests (working on re-finding that research, I'll come back with edits when I've got it.) that promoting the behaviors you want to see is the most effective method of getting results. So I suggest that you institute a new system:

  • Entirely ignore small unwanted behaviors (ex: eye rolling)
  • say "I don't like that" or "no ___" and then move on without comment for medium unwanted behaviors (ex: talking back)
  • Physically block the activity keep children safe during large unwanted behaviors (ex: hitting = "I won't let you hit your brother." while holding the arm of the offending child so that he cannot hit.)

And most importantly

  • Heap praise on wanted behaviors, big and small
  • Set your children up for success! Let them know clearly what your expectations are, and don't expect more than they are developmentally capable of doing. (You will probably need to do a bit of reading to learn developmentally appropriate expectations for your ages of children.)
  • As often as possible, reward wanted behaviors with what they want most-- your time and attention. (games, loving roughhousing, reading together, etc) You don't have to make this an explicit reward (I'm doing this because you did that), just let good things happen when they behave.

Hope that is helpful!

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    I feel this is the best answer. Raising a child and educating his or her character amounts to make them understand the impact of their behavior, and act accordingly. Unless somebody is a sociopath they will act reasonably O.K. if that is achieved. It is mostly unclear to me (as a parent and past child) how punishment is supposed to achieve this. A simple cost/benefit calculation (which, btw, is not limited to monetary punishment) is rather undesirable as motivation. The only benefit a punishment can have is emotional reinforcement which will help remember the incident and impact. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Dec 15 '16 at 18:33
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    ... A cold-blooded, rule-based, economic punishment absolutely fails to deliver this only benefit I can see in punishments. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Dec 15 '16 at 18:34
5

I "fine" my kids for some things:

  • Eating all of a family treat (e.g. cupcakes) or a sibling's treat (e.g. candy from a school party)
  • Purposely damaging a sibling's property (e.g. drawing in a favorite book)
  • Accidentally damaging a sibling's property if the item was taken without permission

If it's a situation where a replacement item is needed, then they're responsible for the price of that item. If I've bought cupcakes for everyone but only one child ate them all, then that child needs to pay up -- if they wanted to get five cupcakes, they would have had to buy five cupcakes from the store. When my son broke his younger brother's toy in a fit of anger, they had to go to the store together to buy a replacement. The cost to them was dependent on what restitution needed to be made (high-end cookies are expensive, a dinner mint is not).

Not everything can realistically be reimbursed in this manner. My oldest once broke the family laptop because she had it up in her top bunk bed (against the rules, and despite repeated warnings) and dropped it to the ground. While she could have covered the cost out of her savings account, it would have been financially devastating. Instead, she's just not allowed to use the replacement laptop anywhere except the family room.

I used to fine them for other stuff, charging a quarter or dollar for miscellaneous misbehavior like rudeness, failing to listen, fighting with a sibling... but it was ineffective. Sure, I was saving money on allowance, but I didn't see any noticeable improvement in behavior.

This was because the fine wasn't a particularly immediate punishment. Losing a couple dollars over the course of a week had extremely minimal impact on their ability to be comfortable day-to-day (they still were fed, clothed, and sheltered), and by the time it did have an impact the next time they wanted to buy themselves a treat or toy, they couldn't remember why they didn't have enough money. There was no connection between "I yelled at my mom" and "I can't afford Pokemon cards", so the punishment was ultimately useless for changing their behavior.

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    All of your reasons are good examples of the punishment matching the 'crime'. It makes perfect sense and the child can see and comprehend that it is fair. – WRX Dec 14 '16 at 15:57
  • +1 - this is an excellent response. Sorry for this nitpicking bit: replacing a broken item is not a fine in my book; it's restitution, which can take many forms besides monetary. My philosophy was very much like yours, but I would not have thought that I ever fined my kids. – anongoodnurse Dec 14 '16 at 16:11
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    @anongoodnurse Good point; I think that's why I rather unconsciously put fine in quotes at the beginning. – Acire Dec 14 '16 at 16:14
4

I want to add my two cents here:

For once, you want that your children understand that actions have consequences, but just taking money won't really teach that. A far better way would be to let them deal with the consequences, as long as they aren't to severe. For example, one of your child breaks something, it has to replace it, including going to the shop and buy a new and if it is something, that doesn't belong to you or your kid, it needs to inform the owner.

The other part that you might consider is, that you are controlling via power. That is all good and easy as long as you are the power but you children will grow up and take their own responsibilities and lives. As soon as they are at this state you will be powerless and everything that they didn't agree on but did because you could force them to do before will be lost, no matter if it was actually good or bad advice.

4

[...] I'm a parent and [...] I use this punishment [...]

I'm looking for any criticisms you might have, so feel free to shout at me in the comments.

Let me preface my answer by stating that I do not condemn or criticize you or your behaviour at all. I will try to explain why punishing them by confiscating small amounts of money might just not work and/or not give the results you wanted.

I am not proposing to be weak and indifferent towards your children; only pointing out why punishment oftentimes simply does not work and is a waste of your and their time and energy.

Punishment is a difficult topic for two reasons, in my opinion and experience:

  • It is an inhibitor, not a motivator.
  • Children may grow immune to the current level of punishment and there is a natural limit to the severity of punishment you can dole out.

Inhibitor instead of motivator

Punishing creates mind states that are all-round negative. The culprit will never have the opinion that it was justified to punish them, and be happy about the fact that their actions were regulated. Instead, they will view you as evil, inappropriate, unjust, mean. It will breed resentment and if it happens often it will likely turn happy, joyful children into moody unhappy beings.

It does nothing to achieve better behaviour. Yes, it might have some effect in the regard that you hear less swearing from your children. But you can be pretty sure that they will swear just as before when you are not around to hear it. If you punish them for hitting each other, they will find ways to hurt each other without you noticing. Or one will come and insist that the other hit them; you will be hard pressed to judge whether the statement is true or not.

Speaking of which: it makes you a judge/sheriff instead of a benevolent parent. A judge is far removed from a trusted entity. And the job is very hard, as you also are your own jury, prosecution and detective... trust me: you would not rather not be in this place.

Most importantly: It does not teach them how to behave instead. It only teaches them to hide things from you and distrust you. It certainly does not earn you their respect (which all of this is about, in the end).

Immunity to punishment

What happens if their money is gone? No more punishment; they are now free to do whatever they want. What will you do then?

Do they need to buy essential things (food) from their money? I guess not. So money is probably not that important to them anyways.

The same goes for other kinds of punishment. House arrest? What happens if they actually like sitting in their room alone? Withdrawing favourite junk food? What happens if they don't care so much? What if you simply cannot find another punishment?

I can't, at the top of my head, think of any kind of punishment which does not suffer this problem, except those kinds that are generally not so much accepted by society these days (i.e., beating them, severe hunger, spending a night alone in the woods amongst wild animals, etc.). If you do even the worst imaginable kinds of punishment long enough, they will get used to it, rendering it even more useless as it was before, and what then?

Try "action and reaction" instead

Punishment is arbitrary. Try to work with action and reaction (a.k.a. cause and effect) instead.

For anything they do wrong, there needs to be a negative effect that lets them know that they did something wrong. This is not punishment, but the cold hard facts of life. It is an immediate effect that is directly related to the cause. If you cannot find a negative effect to some action then, well, the action was fine in the first place!

If there is any conceivable way that the reaction to their wrongdoing comes from someone else than yourself (or from the Universe itself), then you do not need (and should not) do anything at all but let things play out, making sure that you do not give them an easy way out of the stuff they brought upon themselves (as appropriate, of course; if they ignore red lights, you are allowed to pull them back before the car hits them...).

For example, if your 15 year old child deigns to go outside in winter in slippers and T-Shirt, they will get ill. Assuming they know the relationship between body temperature and illness, this is enough of a cause+effect. You do not need to chew them out for getting ill, and you actually do not need to hinder them going out. Inform them about the outside temperature (in a friendly manner), just to give them a chance in case they just forgot to pick up a coat, and be done with it. You never know, they might be immune to severe cold, and never get ill! You can be sure that a sincere "wow, you are tough, this would be much too cold for me and I'd certainly get ill" will make them very happy, instead of "you will stay inside until you pick warmer clothes" (which is 100% useless in the big picture).

Example: They break something that belonged to you? Now is the time to confiscate their money and buy a new something. Don't take a symbolic dollar, but make it count. If they break some expensive porcelain they might be unhappy to find out that these things might cost as much as their half-yearly allowance (feel free to lessen the effect a little bit, of course, you do not need to be 100% draconic here). The important thing is that at this point you make it only about the replacement. Not about emotions. Stay calm and composed. If they have run out of money, then another effect would be that you cannot buy them XYZ which you would normally have bought... things like that.

Example: Your 5-course Sunday meals are very important to you and a cornerstone of your week, nay, of your whole life? The children are rude and spoiling it? Then simply do not let them attend (not as punishment, but as matter of fact - be friendly with them, let them do whatever they want, give them something else to eat). They can sit in their room or go play with their friends while you merrily wine and dine. If they are OK with that (because they don't much like these kinds of events), then that is perfectly fine and you enjoy your free time with adult talk. If you want them to sit with you and pretend to be happy while you know that they hate it, then you are causing the trouble.

Example: they have been rude to you for the last 30 minutes when you were driving in your car with them. You pass your favourite ice cream parlour; they want ice. It is perfectly valid (and "enough") to calmly tell them that due to all the recent bickering you are not really in the mood for ice right now. You do not make it about how respectless they are, or that you don't want to spend the money, or whatever. Just make sure they know that you are disappointed and not in the mood; they cannot argue with that. It is not punishment "you did X to me, so I do Y to you", but it teaches them that if they drive someone mad, that has a direct effect in itself.

Try to apply this kind of thinking to anything where it is even remotely possible. Yes, getting a correct reaction for swearing and rudeness might be quite difficult, but most other things work pretty well. This also goes hand in hand with putting more responsibility on their shoulders. Let them figure stuff out, you don't need to hand-hold them that much.

Earning money

A different, almost unrelated spin on the money issue: 13 year olds can easily start to earn money instead of living on the dole (heck, 7 year olds can figure it out...). Cut their allowance. They get money for doing good things/chores. They are 100% free not to do them, but then they do not get money. Heck, give them an extra dollar for every day they did not cuss at you. Make it as objective and clinical as in the real world (no arbitrary giving or taking, 100% clear upfront rules). Done.

There is a book "The Entitlement Trap" which has a very elaborate scheme to get rid of all possible reasons for fighting, if you wish to go this way. Some people may think all of this is too much "capitalism", but if you are not against that out of principle, their "game rules" certainly are logically watertight. They also manage to put a lot of positive connotations into the matter - i.e., it is a family activity, not just a payment scheme.

Acceptance, motivation, good example

Relax, accept them for what they are, try to understand why they behave like they do. Make sure you understand that there is a separation between you and them, you are not one entity. Be patient. Be very strict with yourself to present good examples at any time. Think a lot. Motivate them in some manner. Not "if you do X, you will get Y", but by finding activities that you can do together where they have plenty of positive emotions and really enjoy the time together with you. Sports, play, rituals...

Remember that it is your job to love your children, it is not the job of your children to love you. You had a choice of putting children into the world; they did not have the choice of their parents. It does happen that even the best of the best parents get "bad" children, and it does happen that you cannot do anything about it. Arbitrary people do not necessarily like each other, and there is no reason to believe that it is different between children and parents. This might sound cruel, but for all intents and purposes it is the truth. Accepting that might help when the going gets rough. Them swearing at you and being rude is a phase that is very likely to occur multiple times, and there is very little indeed you can do about it.

  • 1
    While you've made some interesting points, I would disagree with some. Dentistry is expensive. Oral hygiene is a part of good health and it is a basic to good parenting that we take care of our kids. While I can see paying a kid to do something you would pay someone else to do, chores are simply a part of family life. Everyone should (imo) contribute to making the family 'work'. I would not pay someone to be good, I would reward them, with my/our time or things they enjoy. "What happens if their money is gone? " Great point! – WRX Dec 14 '16 at 17:53
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    @WillowRex, of course, those are just arbitrary examples, not recipes to be taken as gospel. You would not play around with the teeth of a 7yo, but at say 15ish, it's time they start taking care of their own body. That "Entitlement Trap" book is a nice read, it does not simply end up to "pay someone to be good". I added it as the OP is going at it with money right now and positive money rewards are, while probably not the be all end all, certainly better than negative money punishments. – AnoE Dec 14 '16 at 20:23
  • Removed the teeth example anyways, nothing to get hung up about. – AnoE Dec 14 '16 at 20:30
2

I would imagine that it matters where you live. A gift that has been legally received by anyone, including a minor, is theirs by law in many places. Some amounts might cause legal difficulty. The amounts you are talking about are not likely to get you into legal trouble. Even if you fine a kid for swearing, the rule also would apply to you. It is sort of a betrayal of your kid's trust in you.

However, it does not address the issue. IMO, it does not match the 'crime', and it boils down to you are bigger and so you can force the issue. Same as you can hit or swear. I do not think you are acting in your own best interest. Teaching a child is not about punishment as much as it is about reason.

I think this only feels like the easy way but that in the long run, it will backfire.

  • 2
    It matters very much where you live - in many countries minors do not have property; all their belongings legally belong to their parents. So that second sentence might very well be wrong for many people. – Erik Dec 12 '16 at 8:05
  • fair enough... I'll edit. – WRX Dec 12 '16 at 13:00
2

There comes a time when the children leave home, and the parent has no power over them. In your case, and if I was the child, that would be at the earliest possible time, let's say at 18.

At that point the child hasn't learned why some things shouldn't be done. So now the child hasn't learned why you shouldn't swear, but has surely noticed that it can be done now without payment. So what will this child do? Swear as much as they can. No fine for hitting someone? Well, guess what happens.

You are not teaching your kids right or wrong. You don't teach them either being nice to people or standing up for themselves. They will notice that they have unusually nasty parents (for example, should your kids ever talk to me about their situation, that's what I would tell them). You are not doing anything good for them here. In addition, you try to "throw them off". That is nasty. If you wanted to create horrible children, there isn't a better recipe than capricious, unpredictable behaviour by the parent.

protected by Rory Alsop Dec 14 '16 at 19:32

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