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Put-upon parents ‘offering cash bribes for children to complete schoolwork’

By Vicky Shaw
Many parents have resorted to offering their children cash bribes to do their schoolwork during the coronavirus lockdown, a UK survey has found.

Around three in 10 (29%) parents – including many who are working from home themselves – have used money as “motivation” for their children to apply themselves to tasks set by their school.

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of these parents said they have handed over cash to keep their offspring quiet while they worked from home and more than half (53%) paid youngsters to complete their schoolwork, the poll from Halifax found.

Some parents have used similar tactics previously, with one in six (15%) saying they have used cash incentives before lockdown to entice children away from screens.

Getting youngsters to go to bed on time (15%) and to go outside and exercise (7%) were also popular reasons to use money as an incentive.

But offering cash may not work for every child.

A quarter (26%) of children aged eight to 15 said they would be willing to sacrifice some of their pocket money if it meant they were granted more “perks” such as extended screen time.

Emma Abrahams, head of savings at Halifax, said: “Pocket money is a fantastic tool when it comes to teaching kids about money, even if the extra pennies are sometimes paid in a last-ditch attempt to secure parent power.

“Instead of just handing over the cash in situations like this, use it to kick-start conversations with your children about what they intend to do with the money.

“This will give you the opportunity to reinforce good habits, such as saving for the future and spending within your means.”

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of parents pay their offspring to do chores even though 38% believe they should not need a cash incentive.

During the lockdown, nearly a fifth (18%) have paid their children more for doing jobs around the home.

Nearly four in 10 (39%) youngsters have done general housework for the first time, 30% have taken their first steps into gardening, and 14% have been asked to look after siblings.

As well as rewarding children with money for hard work, some parents are willing to take it away to punish bad behaviour. More than four in 10 (41%) use pocket money in this way.

Nearly a third (31%) of parents said they had changed the way they paid their children during lockdown.

More youngsters are getting money paid directly into their bank accounts, Halifax found.

Three in 10 (30%) now have pocket money going straight into their personal bank accounts, compared with 24% a year ago.

Squeezed household incomes have also had an impact on pocket money.

This year, the average weekly pocket money children received was £7.55, down from the £7.71 reported by children in 2019.

A quarter of parents (23%) have had to reduce or temporarily stop paying anything to their children.

Around two-thirds (65%) of parents are worried about money as a result of lockdown, with not being able to pay bills found to be the main concern.

In many cases, children have been reacting positively to the changes to their money, with 31% of parents saying their offspring were OK with it and many saying their child understood why it was necessary.

– More than 550 parents of children aged eight to 15 and more than 1,100 children in this age group were surveyed across Britain from May to June.

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