There are a few parental decisions that are truly polarizing: nursing vs. formula, crib sleeping vs. co-sleeping, paying your child for chores vs. giving them a set allowance. These topics are controversial because there are legitimate pros and cons to each side.
Surely, there are some familial duties that should be mandatory where no payment should be required. But when a child is, in fact, doing something above and beyond, should they get paid for it? Here are our thoughts on how to help your child understand their family responsibilities, use an allowance to teach them basic money management skills, and encourage them to go above and beyond with the opportunity to earn extra money.
So, Should Kids Get Paid For Chores?
If you ask us, kids should not get paid for chores. For a household to run successfully, everyone needs to pull their weight. Yes, even the toddlers.
Having a set list of chores for each child in the house with age-appropriate duties will help teach kids that they are a valuable member of the family unit. It’s also a great way to set expectations and let them know that pitching in is required.
But does this approach work for every family, under every circumstance? No. The reality in today’s world is that time is short, and parents don’t have the mental energy to battle it out with kids over chores. Sometimes, paying your child to do their tasks is a short-term win that can help you set the chore train in motion.
To help you decide what’s right for your family, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each strategy.
Pros of Paying Your Child For Chores
Let’s face it, a lot of times, parents are in survival mode and the last thing they want to do is fight over chores. An allowance that can be given or taken away is quite a money motivator. It will take some of the stress out of constantly reminding the kids to do their chores.
Aside from using cash as a way to get your child to pitch in, there are other solid reasons to pay your child for completing their chores. Some of the most common are:
- They will learn the value of working and earning money for a job well done. Learning this early will help set them up for adulthood, where work equals pay.
- They can save up for something they’ve been wanting for a long time. Whether saving up for a new toy or the latest iPad, knowing that they saved their hard-earned money for this makes the moment extra sweet.
Cons of Paying Your Child For Chores
Many parents agree that there are some mandatory family duties that should not be paid for. Kids should develop a sense of family, and a sense of community when handling certain tasks. This can be keeping an eye on younger siblings or pushing an elder’s wheelchair. They should understand that these things are expected of them because that’s what’s needed of them at that moment.
This helpful mentality can leak through to the community, as well. Building this part of their character is very important and essential to being a valuable and helpful member of society. We all want to live in a society with community-minded and socially conscious people.
Here are some of the reasons not to pay your child for completing their chores:
- They might develop a sense of entitlement. Getting paid money to fulfill basic necessities doesn’t always send the right message.
- Sometimes, money will no longer be a motivating factor for them. Imagine for a moment that you’ve been struggling to keep your child on task, and when you approach them to remind them of the chore they are supposed to be working on, they respond, “Oh, it’s ok. You can keep the money; I don’t want to do the chore.”
- Paying your child for chores discourages them from finding other ways to earn money, like starting a dog-walking service, babysitting, etc.
The Pitfalls Of Paying Your Kids For Every Single Chore
One of the major pitfalls of paying your kids for every chore is that they’ll expect to get paid for everything. No. Matter. How. Menial.
Just imagine having your child ask you for money for brushing their teeth or taking a shower? Or for finishing their dinner? As you can see, this method not only sends the wrong message, but it fails to teach your child any lifelong lessons and is completely unsustainable.
The solution? A combination of an allowance system, established chores, plus the possibility to earn more by taking on extra chores.
Tips On How To Approach Your Child With A System Of Chores And Allowance
Regardless of which chore and allowance method you chose, here are some excellent tools to help keep this process running as smoothly as possible:
- Create a chore chart with a clear schedule
- Include one fun or optional chore per week
- Let your older children teach the younger ones how to do their chores, to create a sense of pride
- Plan on doing some chores together as an opportunity to bond with your kids
- Provide positive reinforcement to boost confidence
- For extra motivation, set up a monthly chore challenge where the winner chooses a movie or decides what to get for takeout
- Make your child’s allowance independent of chores
- Help your child budget their allowance
Which Chores Should Be Mandatory vs. Extra Money Making Opportunities
Now, when trying to decipher which chores should be mandatory, try to think of what you might be inclined to pay someone else to do.
Paying your teen to wash your car (inside and out) will take one item off your to-do list while helping them earn spending cash. This can be extra valuable when your teen isn’t able to earn money by getting a job.
Now, what about watching their siblings? That one could very well fit in the “family unit responsibility” bucket. Every family member must do what’s best for their group.
For younger kids, gardening, taking out the trash, or starting dinner are some other great examples of chores that could earn them a few bucks. But walking Fido or giving him a bath, for example, are things your child should do for their pet on a regular basis.
Keep in mind that, aside from chores at home, there are a lot of other ways kids might be able to make money in the community. Things like pet sitting, writing books, social media management, and even candle-making!
Parent Resources on Chores and Allowances
Wondering what the experts think on the subject of chores and allowances? These are some of our favorite books and apps for parents who want to find the right approach for their families. For more recommendations, check out our entire list of books on allowances for parents to read!
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money discusses using money as a tool, not as a wage. After all, kids should do chores without payment for the same reason we do. Simply stated, because it’s gotta get done. Otherwise, the family doesn’t function. It offers techniques on how to set up an allowance plan that stands on its own and serves as a teaching tool.
To help you keep track of chores and allowances, there are many apps available like FamZoo, a virtual family bank that is designed for preschoolers up to college-aged kids.
If you’re looking for an app-based system, Homey is a chore-management app tailored to children and teens. Allowance lets parents create chores, set the frequency, and transfer funds into virtual banks for each child as they complete tasks or earn rewards.
Celebrate Your Family’s Uniqueness
By now, you’ve heard about the differences between paying for chores and rewarding for chores and the gamut. But what parents should remember is that just like every child is different, every family is also unique.
Whether you choose a steady allowance or a pay-per-chore system, the objective is to help your children recognize their responsibilities toward their home while having opportunities to earn extra money. This will allow you to raise respectful, socially-aware members of society.