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Should I Pay Children for Chores?

A checklist of chores may be helpful for a family with children.
Washing dishes is a common chore for children.
Children might help out with the laundry.
Children who do chores tend to have a greater sense of responsibility.
Some parents pay children for chores rather than providing them with a regular allowance.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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There’s a lot of dispute on whether to pay children for chores, whether to require children to do chores, or whether to offer an allowance that isn’t dependent on chores. Parents have a variety of options to choose from when considering this matter. There are some things to consider in requiring kids to do chores; you aren’t just doing it because you want to be “mean.” Generally you are doing it because not only do the children need to help as part of the family unit, but they also have to learn how to do the basics in chores so they are capable of keeping their homes clean and neat when they set up their own homes.

But should you pay children for chores? Some argue that payment offers incentive to keeps kids doing chores. Instead of having arguments about whether the dog has been fed or the dishes washed, you have a monetary means of proving chores are valuable, and that work is often rewarded with money. When chores aren’t completed, you can merely point to a checklist of required chores, or simply state to the children that they didn’t work and thus didn’t earn their money.

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Money can be a powerful incentive, especially for children who don’t get everything they ask for, and for kids old enough to appreciate both the value of earning something and the fun of shopping. Payment for small chores for very young children may not be all that effective. Yet if you pay children for chores, especially if they’re about five years of age or older, they will usually get and understand the correlation between work and pay, and the idea that work has its rewards.

If you would prefer not to institute regular chores, and you don’t offer kids an allowance, you can pay children for chores on a pay by chore basis. This allows kids to earn an allowance if they want. Simply create a chore list, with a standard pay rate for each chore. It’s a great idea to keep a little money aside so children associate doing a chore with near immediate compensation, which can keep them motivated. The pay by chore method works very well when children don’t receive an allowance, because they won’t have ready money at hand to spend on luxuries they might not otherwise get.

Some parents categorically refute that you should pay children for chores. The reasoning here is that the family operates as a unit, and each family member should be contributing (depending upon age and capability) to the running of the household. They may offer kids an allowance, or may not, but they feel that chores are the responsibility of all, and shouldn’t receive compensation. Furthermore, this argument asserts that paying kids for chores is unequal, since parents regularly must do chores to keep the household running and they don’t get paid for it. Also, children may become dependent on a pay system to complete chores, and therefore won’t learn how to be responsible in their own homes when this reward is no longer in place.

It really depends though. As some childcare experts point out, giving children money gives you something to take away in cases of bad behavior. Thus if you pay children for chores, you also have the capacity to fine them if you have to do their chores, or simply not pay them. Some children really seem incapable of doing chores without some reward system in place, and making chores positive through a pay system or a system of other rewards allows kids to generate positive feelings about chores in general. The pay per chore method may further teach kids that harder work is usually met with greater reward.

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Discuss this Article

anon949402
Post 6

I am 12 and I am doing an argumentivtive essay project on this topic. I think you should give kids money. You can give your child, like, $2 for a "Not-Natural" chore.

anon339846
Post 5

I am so inconsistent about requiring chores, but it seems like something is missing when I don't. There are only three of us with so little in common. Chores have a funny way of making us feel more like a family, especially when we all do them together.

anon299934
Post 3

Rocco, same here. But like everything else in life, you manage their expectations. We draw the line between "duties" and "earns". For example: it is their duty to clean their rooms and pick up their toys, but they can earn by helping out with mopping the *whole* house.

mutts
Post 2

@rocco16727 - I can understand your frustration, but if I didn't pay my kids to help out, nothing would ever get done! Besides, if I pay them for doing chores, then they don't have an excuse to ask me for extra money, so I see it as a way to teach them about being responsible with their money.

Rocco16727
Post 1

I tried paying my kids to do chores, but then they came to expect payment every time I asked them to do something. I didn't like how they were starting to feel entitled, so I stopped that method. I give them praise and thank-yous instead or an occasional ice cream for a job well done.

Has anyone else experienced something like this?

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