Should I Give My Kids an Allowance for Doing Chores?
Learn about the pros and cons of paying kids for doing chores.
Some parents never give money to their children for everyday tasks, believing that chores are a natural extension of community life. On the other hand, paying kids for chores has some benefits, like increased financial responsibility and money-managing experience. If you’re deciding whether to pay your kids for chores, consider these four factors.
Because kids live in the family home, many parents expect kids to contribute to the overall functioning of the household. Putting clothes down the laundry chute, helping with dinner and dishes, and tidying one's bedroom and bathroom are givens. Kids should also be expected to clean up after themselves. If a child builds a model airplane, he needs to put the supplies away and clean any up any mess once he's completed the project.
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Learning About Money
Children, particularly those age 10 and older, need the opportunity to learn to manage money. Thereby an allowance that's tied to learning financial management can be a good idea. To explain, give your son an allowance somewhere between $5.00 and $10.00 per week and then tell him you expect him to save a portion (about a dollar per week), to give a charity or your religious organization, and then the rest he can spend as he chooses.
Designate exactly what you expect him to use this money for, like movie tickets, candy, books, games, or birthday or holiday presents for family members. You can teach him to budget and plan, guiding him toward fiscal responsibility.
If he spends all his money on candy on Monday when he receives his allowance, and then wants to rent a DVD to watch with a friend on Friday night, don't fork over the cash. Simply say, "You spent all your allowance, you'll need to plan better next week."
Compensation for Extra Work
When children complete tasks that are over and above their line of duty, then they can be paid for their work. “On weekend mornings, parents I know pin up bills ($5, $10, or $20 depending on the task) on a bulletin board, paired with chores. The kid who wakes up first gets first pick of the tasks/money,” explains Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled. You might consider paying for a large yard cleaning or home-improvement project, washing windows, or stacking firewood.
Of course, not everyone thinks that these big or nasty jobs should be paid. “Life is full of so-called gruntwork. Doing the icky tasks is a great way to build work ethic,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult. So say to your kid, “Thanks. I know that was gross.”And even if your child’s routine dusting, folding, or table setting doesn’t meet your standards, be grateful and let it go.
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What If My Child Won’t Do Chores?
Now the obvious question is, what happens if the child refuses to tidy his bedroom and bathroom, help with dinner and dishes, put dirty clothes in the hamper, or clean up his messes? “You don’t want to be in a bad negotiating position. If you pay for chores, kids who save well or don’t have anything they want to buy could come to you and say, ‘I have enough money. I’m going to take a break from chores.’ explains Lieber.
In this instance, parents can decide between withholding allowance, withdrawing privileges such as time at the computer or TV, or employing reciprocity, "Since you haven't helped me with dishes this week, I can't drive you to your friend's house on Saturday."
When you employ any of these tactics, keep in mind your goal, which is that the child contributes to the overall functioning of the household and that he learns to manage money. If you're not reaching these goals and power plays ensue, back off for a month or so, and ask your son for ideas as to how to proceed. Negotiate and compromise until you reach your parenting goal.
Remember also, when your son completes a task, offer your appreciation. Flattery gets you everywhere with kids.