When Kids Disobey: Punishment, or Dock Their Allowance?

parenting tips, disciplining kids, parenting advice
When my son got his first part time job earlier this year, I toyed with discontinuing his weekly allowance. I never acted on that impulse, so my son has continued to earn a sum of money each week for completing assigned responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to put his laundry away. Laundry in our home is sorted by color and washed together. Once it’s been dried, it’s folded and put into baskets. My wife and I take ours to our room, our son’s is set on his bed.

Unfortunately, he’s developed a bit of a bad habit. There are times that his laundry basket will be moved to the floor and sit there for days. One time it was still sitting there when the next round of laundry was done and ready to be delivered. It has become increasingly frustrating as the length of time, and the number of reminders needed to put away his laundry have both increased.

One night this week, I hit my breaking point. His basket had again been sitting there for days, and I had already taken it back to the laundry room once for another delivery. I told him early in the evening it had to be done before bed. When he came to say good night to me, I reminded him to put his laundry away before he went to bed. Fifteen minutes later I slowly opened his door and saw that the basket was still sitting on the floor.

Two thoughts went across my mind:

  1. Exit his room, close the door, and reduce his allowance for the week
  2. Flip on the lights, wake him up, and make him put his laundry away.

Since this blog mostly covers topics relating to money and finances,  you might think that I choose #1. If you did, you made the wrong choice. My reasoning being this was not a time to teach him a lesson about not getting paid if you don’t do the work. This was an opportunity to teach the lesson that disregarding instructions from an authority figure has consequences. On came the light, off came the covers and the laundry basket was plopped right next to him on his bed.

“I told you to put your laundry away and THEN go to bed.”

Without objection, the young man got up and put away his laundry. Today is Friday, which means it’s allowance day. My son will get his allowance, and I’d bet a new perspective about putting away his laundry.

How about you, Clever Friends, would you have just docked his allowance, or would you have made him get up and put it away immediately?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Since I’m not sure where I fall on the idea of an allowance yet, I’m positive I would have done #2 and am not sure if I would also have done #1. There are long term and short term consequences in life for not getting things done when they’re expected and I’m not sure if a combination punishment might be one way of getting that across. Then again, I’d like to make sure the punishment fits the transgression rather than being punitive.

  • We’re starting an allowance and it’s sort of a gray area on how much of a factor it is when the kids do or don’t do what they’re supposed to, and how they get measured. I think it’s going to take some trial and error.

    I honestly think that your approach would have been my preference given his age. Teens sleeping don’t want to get woken up, so chances are he’ll remember that a lot better than if he’d been shorted a couple of bucks.

Leave a Comment