Teaching Tots about Treasure

In a shop – food, homewares or (the worst) toys:

“Can I have this?” Small Child.

“No.” Parent.

Please can I have this?” Small Child.

“No, it isn’t on the list/in the budget/what we came here for.”

Option 1: Child throws a tantrum and you have to punish them and leave the shop in embarrassment.

Option 2: You find a cheaper option and allow the child to have it.

Option 3: You completely give in and wish you hadn’t made an issue of it to start with.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t been that successful at finding other options. One good way to avoid the discussion is to shop online…! Anyway, one thing we are doing which is helping Bunny to understand why she can’t have everything she lays her eyes on is teaching her about money (i.e. treasure – I just liked the alliteration. Sorry if you were looking for pirate-themed activities.).

We started this a couple of months after Bunny turned 3 (just after we found Dave Ramsey). We pay her 50p for each of her paying jobs. These are unpacking the shopping and helping me to change the bedding. This means she can earn £1 per week. She doesn’t get any other pocket money or allowance, though sometimes she will receive gifts of money.


This may be the point in this post when some people get upset at how we are training our child, but for us it has benefits.

I usually find with any parenting advice that everyone loves their own method – which is fair enough, as they’ve tried it and it worked brilliantly with their own child(ren) – and will argue for it, perhaps to the point of making you feel that your way is wrong or harmful for your child(ren). I try to listen, hear their idea, decide if I like it and want to investigate more, or that I don’t, and if it is the latter I will try to nod along and not take it to heart as an attack, and won’t try to argue my point as it won’t change their opinion. That doesn’t mean I would like hate-replies to this post though…! It doesn’t mean I’m always that great at doing it either. I love to argue my point, but in parenting conversations it’s just not that helpful.

So how do we teach Bunny household responsibility if she gets paid for jobs around the house? Well, there are lots of jobs she doesn’t get paid for. She sets the table for dinner, tidies rooms with me, makes the beds with me and sometimes helps me clean (though that is playing really!).

So, now that we have been doing this for a few months, what has Bunny learned?

– She can earn and save up money for something for herself. A little while ago she was able to buy this Thomas the Tank Engine (US affiliate links – if you purchase after clicking an affiliate link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, thank you in advance for your support if you do purchase through my link) for her wooden railway set, with £10 of her own money which she had earned and saved herself. We’ve really tried to emphasise the big achievement this was to her!

– Bunny definitely knows the connection between work and money. I can’t neglect to pay her – she remembers! She will remember, even if it is a day later, that I haven’t paid her yet for the work she has done.


– “You can spend money on something to play with or eat” (I just asked her what she knows about money)

– When we find ourselves in a shop and Bunny asks for something, we have another option: “You can buy it with your own money if you want it (and have enough)” – I always make sure to tell her that it means it will take longer for her to save up for whatever it is she is saving up for at the moment, and I might ask her to think about it overnight and we can come back the next day if she still wants it, if it is a larger purchase

– Along with the last point, Bunny knows that you can’t buy everything you want. Money is finite!

What does she not yet understand?

– More coins does not mean more money! She knows that the coins have values but she hasn’t made this connection yet.

I’m sure that there are many more things which she doesn’t understand yet but she has definitely made so much progress in fiscal comprehension in the last 6 months. I just want to make clear that we are teaching her about money for her benefit, and that the supermarket scenario shows us a child with a lack of understanding about money and therefore a need to learn. It does happen to have benefits for us as parents and as a family too, but they are life lessons which are firstly for Bunny herself.

So the main points are:

– Do small jobs around the house to get paid (immediately), though these are not the only jobs the child does, and if the child refuses to finish a job they don’t get paid

– Encourage the child to save up for something they want to buy, and count as you go along – only so much to go, only so many weeks, etc

– Get to buy the toy and celebrate by getting the child to tell friends and relatives all about their achievement!

I hope this helps you to think about how you might teach your tot about treasure. Don’t forget what I said earlier about parenting advice!

Linking up to Tot School at 1+1+1=1.


4 thoughts on “Teaching Tots about Treasure

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