Lieber thinks parents shouldn't give kids an allowance for doing chores, but not because he's against chores. Quite the contrary: He thinks kids can do far more than most parents realize.
"Any 10-year-old is capable of making the family dinner and should be," Lieber said. "Most chores parents give kids aren't hard enough."
Lieber disagrees with tying allowance to chores, however. That just invites kids who don't really need the money to manipulate parents, he says. Instead, take away something more precious, like screen time, when kids misbehave. But treat allowance as a teaching tool.
In fact, Lieber thinks kids should get a sizable allowance, but get an equally large responsibility. Kids as young as 9 or 10 years old can be given a clothing allowance that might be several hundred dollars, for example, but then must make it last all school year. If they run out of money prematurely, they've learned a valuable life lesson. "You can put financial responsibility on kids at an earlier age than you think. They can handle it," he said.
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As kids become teenagers, move from three-figure decision-making to four digits, such as letting kids help plan thousand-dollar family vacations. Then, when the five- or six-digit college decision comes along, they will be ready.
When parents protect kids from financial decisions–say, when they simply buy their teenager a car without making him or her part of the negotiation–a valuable learning opportunity is lost. It's better to have a child spend foolishly on a used car at 17 than foolishly on a house at 30, he says.
"You want kids to make dumb mistakes while they are still under your roof and aren't facing huge consequences," Lieber said. "You can't really go from kids making decisions about allowance or bicycles to making a six-figure decision with one leap."