I handle a lot of library fines at work. One of the biggest causes of fines (or so the parents tell me) is a child misplacing a book and not being able to find it before it was due.
Some kids pull out their little coin purses and pay the fine out of their own money. Other times, parents pay the fine and tell the child to be more careful next time. Sometimes there are arguments. The older they get, the more likely they are to argue.
One mother roundly told me that she can’t control her kids and there was no way she’d pay the fine. I responded that she had the choice not to pay the fine, but that she’d agreed to do pay it when she signed them up for cards, so the account might get sent to collections.
I’m trying to remember what my parents did. We had a very small spending allowance when we were little, which wouldn’t have been enough to cover most fines. I know they took all kinds of special care so that we had pretty few late books.
When a kid is very young it’s hard to punish her for an accident. As she gets older there is more sense in making her pay her own fines—depending on how seriously she takes keeping track of books.
My thoughts: For the occasional slipup in a great track record, I might pay the late fine. I’d also pay for something on her account that wasn’t her fault—my book, her brother’s sudden illness that kept us from going to the library, etc. If it started to become a problem, I might make her pay any late fines and see if that made responsibility seem more important.
Are library fines a problem in your household? Do you make your kids pay them or pay them yourself?
photo by .Fabio