Allowance, Tooth Fairy Style

Until recently, my son was completely unmotivated by the opportunity to earn a weekly allowance.  There were few things that he wanted and he was content with waiting until his summer birthday to earn cash from the relatives.

This has changed and once again, I have gaming to thank for this paradigm shift.

My son will tackle a game until he masters it.  Only on a rare occasion will he revisit a game that he feels he has already conquered.

This has become an expensive habit and his holiday gift cards ran out quicker than he expected; he came to us and wanted to revisit the allowance discussion again.  I was glad that it was his decision because we are learning that sometimes we have to let him think that it was his idea initially in order to see buy in.

We designed a weekly chore chart that was filled with squares.  Each square had a job to do and when crossed off, earned him a quarter.  While a quarter doesn’t sound like a lot of coin, this system has the possibility to add up quickly. There was some initial bargaining since my TBP thought that each square should be a dollar, but soon the potential earnings seemed sufficient.

I proposed that we have a weekly payday but I shouldn’t have been surprised when he desired a daily transfer of funds. He is still working on waiting for something instead of expecting it right away.  Maybe this is developmental, but we decided that the new motivation and opportunity for frequent check in with the remaining jobs was actually a good thing.

Here’s where things went a little…surprising.

My son didn’t want us to hand him his daily earnings.  Instead, he wanted us to put it under his pillow.


He knows there isn’t a tooth fairy and that all along, we were the ones that hid the money before giving the credit to the fairy.

He also knows the amount that is earned for the day since he is the one crossing off the squares and adding up the amount.

For whatever reason, this is important to him.

Last night was our first night; so after he went to bed, we put $1.50 inside a snack size baggie and placed it under his pillow.  We went to bed and honestly, I forgot about the whole baggie-under- the-pillow-situation until he pointed and asked if his allowance “was there.”

When he looked, he was so excited.  He acted surprised, just like he found buried treasure.

As with many phases in our house, this might be short-lived.  He was really into eating by candle light for a few weeks but now that phase is almost forgotten. He might lose his momentum when he realizes just how long it will take before he can buy that expensive game that he wants.

I think the wait is good.

I hate to sound ancient, but I remember how long I had to save up for things when I earned a weekly allowance; I also remember the pride that I felt when I finally succeeded.

Everything around us is so fast, so immediate. These days, it is hard to find ways to slow things down. If this tooth fairy allowance thing can do that, I’m okay with digging in the bottom of my purse, reusing that baggie, and sneaking in before to hide it before I go to sleep.

If these coins that he discovers each morning will help him develop patience,  practice goal setting, and understand that money doesn’t grow on trees…okay!

By the way, it doesn’t grow on trees, but it might be under your pillow. 🙂

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