Chances are you’re wondering if you should pay your children for chores because of one of three reasons: to reward your kids for their hard work, to give them an incentive to help out or to teach them that working pays.
Know your reasons
These are all great reasons to consider paying your kids for chores. And that’s just it. Why you might pay your kids to do chores is a better question than if you should or shouldn’t. Every family has their own dynamics and needs, which should all be considered.
I posted the question, “Do you pay your kids for chores?” on my Facebook profile and the answers came flying in. Parents had different ideas, but generally the answers fell into three camps: No way (64%), yes, for extra chores (24%) and yes, for all chores (12%).
You might think the resounding “no way” from parents gives you an easy answer, but the reasons why parents chose one way over another are worth diving into. From their answers I’ve created a list of 3 considerations for you to use to make the decision that is right for your family.
Consideration 01: Kids need to learn how to be a part of a family.
Many parents who chose not to pay their children for chores did so because they wanted to teach their children that everyone should pitch in. There was a sense of unity and ‘having each other’s back’ that parents wanted to have. As one parent put it, “It’s her home too, so helping to keep it clean is expected.”
Responsibility, unity, and equality were values that were highlighted in the comments of parents who chose not to pay their kids for chores. Two parents said they went as far as giving themselves chores as well as their children to stress that everyone had to do their share.
Consideration 02: Kids need to learn how the ‘real world’ works.
Parents who chose to pay their kids for extra chores said they wanted their kids to learn that working for money is how the world works.
Be aware that this only works by if you tell your child you won’t pay for everything they want. When they have a “want”, they have the choice of working for the money or deciding that the toy, video game, etc is not worth it.
Another way parents reported they taught their children that people only get paid for working in ‘real life’ was paying their children for ALL their chores.
Yes, some parents do! Some even tied the quality of the job done to how much their children got paid. This emphasized that a job well done results in greater rewards.
Other parents who didn’t pay their children for chores expressed that they paid them for grades, since the parents viewed their child’s schoolwork as their job.
Consideration 03: Kids need to learn money management.
For kids to learn money management, they need access to money, opportunities to choose how to earn it and chances to decide how to spend it. Over a third of parents that responded to my Facebook question chose to pay for chores (36%), including only paying for extra ones, which gave their children regular ways to earn money. Once the kids received the money, many parents taught them how to make spending decisions.
According to a longitudinal study underway by the Financial Education & Research Centre (Fin-Ed) at Massey University, young adults (18-22 years old) still heavily relied on their parents’ advice about money, 60% wished they were better at saving, and impulse spending was a major problem.
At the least these are reasons to start teaching kids as early as possible how to save and make good spending choices.
What do I do?
With three teenagers and one pre-teen in our house, my husband and I are in the centre of this issue.
Earlier this year we added into our annual spending plan $15 per child per week, which they could earn by doing an extra job around the house. Each week the kids had to complete their chores without pay, but if they wanted pocket money for the mall or to buy a ‘want’, they would have to ask to do a $15-job.
Here’s the catch: 1. We weren’t going to manage it for them. They had to ask to do the extra job. 2. If they didn’t do a $15-job that week, the money would be reallocated in our spending plan – a use it or lose it system.
That meant they couldn’t negotiate to do a $30-job because they didn’t do a $15-job the week before.
Best of both worlds
We decided on this system of paying the kids for extra chores for 2 main reasons. We wanted the kids to learn personal responsibility and taking care of each other by doing their own chores to help the family.
Equally we wanted them to learn that work is the currency of the real world. People don’t just hand out money once you become an adult and we weren’t about to raise people who were happy being freeloaders.
Admittedly we started this later in the kids’ life than what we would’ve liked, but in a blended family like ours we’ve had to prioritize.
Slow start, but now we’re off.
For the first few months I think the kids were in disbelief. They would ask for money or for us to buy them something and our reply was, “Sure, you can do a $15-job to earn the money.”
To my surprise, they mostly opted to do nothing and go without, so we were patient. I’m pretty sure they thought it wouldn’t last long.
Once it sank in that our answer wasn’t going to change, their question changed. Now they ask to do a $15-job when they want money.
Success. Now the next phase is to teach them what to do with the money they get….One step at a time.