Kids, Chores, Allowances and the Tooth Fairy


by David D. Holland



Every now and then I have a radio show guest who takes out a pen and notepad while I get “on the couch” (figuratively speaking, of course!). David Simonsen, Ph.D., Parenting and Relationship Therapist, was just such a guest. He joined me recently to talk about “tough kid questions,” allowances, and child/parent negotiation. You may recall that my wife, Toni, and I have three children, so believe me, I was listening closely to what Doc David had to say!


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No Fib Zone. One of the first things I asked the doctor was how to answer the questions my kids ask me. The response was an interesting one. Doc David does not believe in lying to children ... period. Not even about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny! He believes that when children get older and find out the truth, they lose trust in their parent(s) because of the initial lie. That being said, what you do tell your children needs to be age-appropriate. Be direct and honest, but word your answers in terms the child can understand. Should you tell your children about your finances? Again, gear your message to their level of understanding. Kids learn by observing the actions of their parents, so teach by example. All children should have a general working knowledge of budgeting, saving and working hard.


On Or Off the Payroll? My second question had to do with allowances. Does Doc David pay his kids to do chores? His answer was a resounding, “no!” He believes chores should be performed because the child is a participating member of the family. If you pay a child for chores, the chore becomes a commodity. The child can then choose to wash the dishes – or not. The time when a child can choose whether or not they want to do chores is when they finally move out on their own! Then they can do whatever they want!


Ask Your Mom. Lastly, I asked the age-old question about manipulation. (Note: My children do try to manipulate me.) Doc David enlightened me on this topic, saying that parental thinking needs to make a shift. “Manipulation” is actually the way children learn negotiation skills (in their own unsophisticated way). So just “draw the line” for kids and it will make life easier. Some things are negotiable. Some things are not. Parents have to determine what is and what isn’t, and then let the children know their limits.


As I adjust my position on the couch, I realize it’s the end of my session – I mean column! To hear this show in its entirety, click the “Radio” tab at




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