Kids, Allowance, and Chores

In this article, you will find:

Staying on top

Watch Your Step

Don't condition an allowance on completing homework assignments. You don't want to buy your child's good grades.

Checking on Chores

If you think that chores should be required as a condition to receiving an allowance, spell out just what's expected of your child. Detail what your child has to do and how often. Some tasks may have to be done only once a month; others, such as taking out the garbage, must be done twice a week.

Obviously, chores need to be age-appropriate. You're not going to have your 7-year-old mow the lawn, but he can walk the dog or change the cat's litter box. Generally, it's a good idea to keep chores to those tasks that can be performed quickly (say, 15 minutes or so). Also change chores periodically so that boredom and other complaints are avoided. Here are some chores that you might consider asking your child to do and how often to do them.

List of Chores How Often They Need to Be Done
Baby-sitting siblings ________________________________________
Changing the cat's litter box ________________________________________
Doing dishes ________________________________________
Dusting ________________________________________
Feeding family pets ________________________________________
Laundry ________________________________________
Managing the family's recycling ________________________________________
Taking out the garbage ________________________________________
Vacuuming ________________________________________
Walking the dog ________________________________________
Washing the car ________________________________________

Keep track of how well your child is doing on the chore front—you may have to make reminders. Consider posting the checklist where it'll serve as a reminder to your child (for example, in her room or on the refrigerator).

Watch Your Step

Don't try to track performance with complicated charts and graphs: It's a burden for you to maintain and can make your child feel over-regulated.

Canceling for Nonperformance

What happens if you've laid out an elaborate work schedule for your child and she fails to do some of the chores during the week? Do you reprimand her? Do you adjust or withhold her allowance?

Obviously, if there's no reduction in allowance for nonperformance, your child may come to believe that there are no consequences for bad behavior. On the other hand, it's tough to withhold money if the violations are minor or infrequent. And what do you do when your child is sick or injured and can't do the chores? However you decide to act, make sure that your child knows what will happen, and be consistent about it.