Allowance for Kids: Should We Pay Our Little Ones for Chores?

There are many decisions a parent will face as their children progress through the many phases of childhood to becoming an adult. And one of those decisions is whether or not to pay your child for chores. Or maybe you’ve already made the decision that you’re going to do it and are trying to decide exactly when is the most appropriate time to begin handing out the money for their myriad of accomplishments. And how much is enough?

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Offering payment for your child’s accomplishments puts a dynamic into the household that can be a very valuable tool for not only teaching your child responsibility in their actions, but responsibility with money as well.

But there’s an ideal time in which to incorporate payment for services rendered. And that time is after they’ve learned how to master the chore and are accomplishing it on their own. The time you spend teaching your child how to complete a task is not the time to pay them for it. Paying them too early in the process actually teaches them to become dependent on others to carry the load. It takes away from their motivation to learn this new skill you are trying to teach them. They will come out more self-sufficient, and willing to learn faster if there is a set goal for them to reach as well as a reward for reaching it.

An allowance also offers an opportunity for parents to be able to teach the concept of consequences for when your child refuses to do their chores.

But one needs to keep things in perspective when choosing this as an option to take within your household. Keep the chores and the pay in an age appropriate range. A child in grade school can be expected to pick up their toys in their room, but it would be inappropriate to ask them to mow the lawn. A child in grade school might have the nightly chore of setting the dinner table and clearing the dishes after the meal, but not cooking the dinner.

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It is better to set a pre-negotiated pay to a weekly basis. Alteration to the pay can be made if chores were forgotten, or your child refused to do them.

But it is also your job as their parent to teach your child the responsibility they need to accomplish these tasks. They will not have these skills mastered in the beginning. Do not allow your child to flounder on their own, repeatedly, unable to complete their tasks to a satisfactory level. That is how to set a child up for failure, something we all want to avoid.

Instead, gently remind them of their chores. Guide them through it when necessary. If they seem fussy about it, see if they’re hungry or tired. Sometimes you just might have to switch the régime. Renegotiate another set of chores to accomplish for the allowance. They might appreciate the change of pace.

The amount of pay is important. Smaller amounts are more appropriate for younger children. Where as, older children have most likely taken on more complex chores. Maybe your teenager is cooking the meal once a week, or bathing the dog. Perhaps they’re babysitting their younger brother or sister after school, until you can get home and take over. Increase the pay as the complexity of the chores increase. Involve your children in negotiating their own pay. This gives them valuable skills they will need later on as they enter the job market.

When gently handled with care and consideration, an allowance can turn into a tremendous learning tool full of lessons that your children will use for the rest of their lives.

 

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