How to Get Kids to do Chores
Kids and chores can be a touchy subject for parents. Should my kids do chores? If so, what kind of chores? Should children be paid or should chores be just a normal part of living? Many think that chores should be expected with no reward, others think allowance (monetary or otherwise) for chores is the best option, and others believe that kids should be kids, not forcing chores on their children at all.
I personally view chores and school as a child’s “job”, and just as parents have jobs which they are compensated for, a child deserves compensation for their hard work. Almost every individual that gets up for work does so to get paid and teaching children that hard work, responsibility, and motivation pays is OK… because it does.
In my house, the kids have a few chores that need to be accomplished at a certain time during the day, if they are not done, they are not “paid” and they lose a privilege (tablet usage, TV time, and so on). If they are done, and done well, they are paid and given positive reinforcement. My children have adjusted well to this and have begun to see how much work “chores” are, how many “chores” I do, and have begun to do things not on their list, and all on their own, which is awesome!
Here’s How it Works
Here is how it works in our home… between 9-10 am Monday-Friday and the hour after breakfast on the weekends, the kids go upstairs to accomplish their chores. I set a timer for 60 minutes, turn on some music and they start at it. When the timer goes off, I expect the chores to be done, and done well (to their level, not mine).
If they are done, I quickly give everything a look over, give them their payment and positive reinforcement. I do that by saying things like the following…
- Thank you for doing your chores in a timely manner or Thank you for doing that quickly and well.
- It really helps me when you do your chores.
- I know you are saving for XYZ, doing your chores will help you get that quicker, good job.
However, if they aren’t done or they aren’t done up to their normal standards, I do not give them their payment. It is important here not to give negative reinforcement or comments, because the goal is to make self motivation a positive experience, but I might say the following…
- I know you are saving for XYZ, if you don’t do your chores, you won’t be able to save for that… keep that in mind.
- It would mean a lot to me if you would do your chores tomorrow because it really helps me keep the house clean.
If they continuously choose not to do their chores, which hasn’t happened, my plan is to explain the workings of a job. For instance, should their dad choose not to do what he is supposed to at his job, he would eventually get fired. In this same way, eventually they will lose something that they value… a tablet or TV time.
Our Pay Scale For Chores
.50 for a good job without being reminded
.25 for a good job with a reminder
.10 for an OK job with a reminder
.00 for not doing them, whining or doing job very poorly
I pay them right after their chores are done and we go about our day.
I opted to make their payment actual money but there are many ways to pay a child. Some choose coupons (for things like “15 minutes of extra TV time” or “you choose dinner”), others have a prize chest and I have seen a button system where kids are rewarded with buttons and X amount of buttons buys items or experiences (ice cream, movie and so on).
I personally chose money so my kids could learn how to count and be responsible for money, but I also wanted them to learn how to save money, give money to charity and learn about the lovely tax system, so when my children earn money, 10% is saved, 10% is given to charity, 10% goes back in the pot for taxes (I wish we only paid 10%), and the rest is theirs. We wanted them to understand these principles and I like that they are learning what percentages are at the ages of 5, 6 and 7. I have even had the kids offer to put more into their savings jar and the charity jar on many occasions, funny none of them have offered more to the “tax” jar, I guess no one likes taxes!
So, how do you implement a system of chores effectively? It takes a bit of time, but communication, clear goals and consistency are the keys. I have a chore chart and I sat down with them and explained what chores they each have, how to do them, the positive side of doing them and the negative side of not doing them or not doing them well. I gave them a week to become adjusted and then I told them what was expected again. The goal here is not to make your life harder by constantly reminding your kids to do their chores, it is to teach your kids personal responsibility and self motivation, while helping you a bit by slightly lessening your load.
If you have read other posts of mine, you might remember that we home school. To incorporate school and their extra curricular activities (Taekwondo, piano class, bowling league, baseball league, Spanish class and Awana) I offer payment for positive attitudes not necessarily performance, which is a bit different than their chores. I do this because I want to instill in them that a positive attitude is key to success and it gives them reason to focus on their attitude, but also allows them to learn how to reflect on their attitude when a issue arises.
Pay Scale For School
For school, I offer a quarter for positive attitudes throughout the school day but I allow 1 opportunity to turn around a negative attitude. Here is my pay scale…
.25 for a positive attitude, no issues
.10 for an overall positive attitude, perhaps with an issue
.00 for an overall negative attitude
For extra curricular activities, I factor effort in a bit but the pay scale is a flat rate of .10 per activity with no exception, they are there to learn and not waste their instructors time. They get .10 for doing what they should and .00 for not.
Overall my children (5, 6 and 7) have the opportunity to make $5.25-$5.45 (depending on which extra curricular is in session), of which 10% goes to savings, charity and taxes, leaving them (in this scenario) $3.80 a week for themselves, a little over $15 a month. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot or maybe for how young they are it sounds like too much, but we feel it is a good start for them to learn the value of money and that hard work and positive attitudes can get you far. I find them questioning if small purchases are “worth” their money. They also see bigger items that they want and are making efforts to save for them. I think that is great.
Are my kids perfect… lol… no! My oldest is really coming into his own and is starting to put all of this together, my youngest can be a struggle, but for 5, he is doing well.
So, while you might not agree with my methods, know kids and chores are possible and with time they reap many more benefits than just a cleaner room. Let me know what you think!
Oh, and the chore chart was very easy. We purchased 4 pre-cut pieces of board from Lowes, painted with chalkboard paint, hung them up and violá! If you are looking for something a bit simpler, check out these chore charts.
Bet + fam 🙂
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