The Pocket Money Challenge

I expected that K’s first encounter with managing his pocket money, will likely be not having enough of it to buy food at recess. Or that consumerism will overtake good sense, and he might end up spending most of his pocket money on knick knacks from the bookshop. 

I was surprised that the first challenge that he encountered with his pocket money was quite different from what I expected. 

“My P.5 buddy asked me to help him buy a glue stick yesterday. He showed me his wallet, he only had 20 cents left.”

“So did u buy it for him?”

“He needed it for class after recess but he didn’t have enough money to buy. He was hungry and bought what he liked to eat, so little money left after that.”

“What did you do?”

“I bought the glue stick for him. He needed it, it was only 60 cents.”

“Why didn’t he ask his parents for the money to buy the glue the day before, since he needed it for class?”

“He forgot, and he was afraid that the teacher might scold him, so I helped him. Anyhow it’s cheap, it’s 60 cents only. He only gets $1.50 a day (while Kyle gets $2.00).”

“He was not the only one that asked his P.1 buddy, my classmates also helped the other boys in his class. I heard one of my classmates saying ‘No’ really loudly to his buddy who asked him. I think my classmate is really selfish.”

“So then, when happens if he starts asking you again another day to help him buy something else from the bookshop. Will u still help him?”

“Yes I will, if he needs help.”

“What if he starts asking everyday?”

“Of course not.”

“What do you think happens if he starts asking you to buy stuff for him all the time?”

“I will just say ‘No’, as it is not right. It will be almost like stealing, using my money.” 

Now hearing all of what K said, he believes that he is helping a friend, and it doesn’t sound like he plans to get the money back. 

I don’t intend to give him the answers directly, as I want him to think about it for himself. And this is a good opportunity to put his values to the test. 

Discernment can be learnt over time through experience but I don’t think it profits my child now to teach him that it is important to get his money back. Knowing how to manage his pocket money is important, but this time round I want to focus on the values that I will be imparting to my child. What values will I be emphasizing, if I tell him this instead, “It’s not the value of the money, but the principle, you need to ask him to return the money back to you.”

Like any parent, the thought of “What if this P.5 boy continue to do this, with the intention of taking advantage of him?” crossed my mind. But I brushed it away and decided that we will deal with that when it happens. We prefer to think of the good in his P.5 friend and believe that he truly needed help and I was glad that K readily helped him with the money and didn’t need to think twice about helping a friend in need.

I praised K for being a generous friend. 

The best way for a child to learn how to manage himself through life is through a real-life, practical experiences. I am heartened that there will be plenty of opportunities that will present themselves from school. Besides knowing how to say ‘No’ doesn’t seem to be an issue for him, so I am less concerned about new challenges that will come. I am glad that his first response was not of selfishness, and he did not cling on so tightly to his pocket money stash.  

What will you do if your child encounters this in school? 



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  1. Hmmm… it happened to my children one time too many. There was once a girl borrowed $2 from Megan and never returned her money. I asked Megan to ask it back from her because yes, it is a matter of principle. In the end, that girl went round spreading rumors about how “selfish” Megan was. I told Megan no more next time lending money to this person who is very ungrateful. Good thing Meg was not the least affected.
    Adeline Oon´s last blog post ..[Recipe] Traditional Peanut Cookies

  2. I praise K for being a generous and kind boy. He knows what is helping and also when others take advantage of him. For now it is true that it’s not important for him to get back the 0.60 but to think and analyse the situation u posted to him. Let other see Jesus in Him.

    Rachel, well done in bringing him up well. Thank God.
    Jean´s last blog post ..Out from a thankful heart …

  3. Now i koe why parents give the kiddos so little money. This is definitely one of the valid reason! Thanks!

  4. I think that it’s nice that you’re not teaching him to be cynical at this young age. I hope this turns out to be a one-off thing for the P5 boy.