Chores and Allowance: Tie them Together or Split Them Apart?
One decision most parents of children aged 5 or so and up will need to make will be that of giving an allowance and assigning chores.
For some parents, the idea of paying a child to do a chore makes complete sense. You ask the child to make his bed each morning, much like you are required to get up and go to work each day, and at the end of the week, if your child followed directions, he receives payment, much like you would in the form of a paycheck at the end of a work week. In this way, kids learn if they work hard, they will be rewarded.
Other parents believe in a separation between the idea of chores and allowances. Chores, they feel, are things children should do to help around the house; these tasks keep the family running smoothly, keep the home clean and safe, and show the child how we sometimes need to do things for the good of the group and not because it’s tied to a monetary reward. So a child makes her bed because it helps keep the entire home presentable; or mows the lawn because that’s something that has to be done to keep the yard safe and neat.
I fall somewhere in the middle on this issue. I do believe kids should help around the home in order to keep the house in order. I don’t feel it’s my job to do all of the cleaning, straightening, and putting away of things. On Sundays, the girls put up their own clothes after they’ve been folded. Each night one girl sets the table and the other clears. After they brush their teeth, they wipe out their bathroom sinks. These are tasks that keep the home neat, or tasks that also benefit others. When they complain about having to do these things, I remind them I cook dinner every night, not because I make an allowance for doing so, but because I want my family to be healthy.
At the same time, I do believe it’s important for kids to understand there are benefits and rewards to hard work; and for many of us (most of us, as adults!) that reward comes in the form of payment. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with teaching kids the lesson – get a job, work hard, get paid. That’s how the world works, in my opinion, and teaching children the importance of this when they are young will, hopefully, help them create a good work ethic for when they get older.
In our home, I pay the girls a base allowance and then give them ‘bonus money’ for doing specific jobs. I tell them before they do these jobs that they will make extra for doing them. This may be vacuuming their rooms (a task they love!) or helping me clean the windows. It is typically an additional chore they can easily do.
Where do you fall in this, and why? Do you believe all chores should be tied to an allowance, some chores should be tied to an allowance, or an allowance should be given apart from the chores assigned?