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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Chores and Allowances

Chores  and the judicious use of money allowances both  help

children learn responsibility.  Chores help to lighten the burden

for all members of the family and underscore the message that the

home  belongs  to  everybody who lives in it,  and that  all  are

important. The delegation of chores has to be done well, however,

in  order  for these tasks to have a positive  influence  in  the

One  vehicle  for the distribution of chores  fairly  is  the

family  meeting.   At  such a meeting a list of chores  can be

developed  and  members of the family given equal opportunity  in

deciding  who  will  do  what  chores.   There  may  be  schedule

developed,  and  the  chores  can change  and  rotate  among  the

members.   Consequences can also be worked out for members who do

not  complete their chores.   All members of the family from  the

youngest  to  the  oldest can participate in doing  a  chore  and

helping in the smooth running of the household.
The chores for very young children should fit their ability.

It  sometimes  helps for the parent to work along with the  young

child.  For  example,  the  child puts the napkins on the  dinner

table  while the parent puts out the utensils.   If  putting  the

napkins  on the table is the child’s agreed upon chore,  however,

he  or  she should be expected to  complete  it.   Sometimes  the

Šnovelty  of  doing  a chore for a young child wears off  and  the

child forgets to do it.  You can re-negotiate new chores, but the

child  should be expected to carry through on his or her part  of

being a family member by helping out.
I  have found the best system for chores is to keep a  chart

in the kitchen,  listing the agreed upon chores.   In our family,

the  agreed  upon daily chore for my sons was the one  I  hated–

cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  The calendar for the month

consisted  of  each boy’s initial on the day he had to clean  up.

They  could trade off and negotiate among themselves but I  never

touched  a  dish after dinner.   They learned to do  a  good  job

because  they had to go back and do it again if it was not right.

The  main  reason I was sorry to see them go off to  college  was

they left my husband with the dinner dishes.
There  are many other things children can help do around the

house.   Even  a  young toddler can help put away  the  toys.  As

children get older, they can help feed the pets, rake the leaves,

mow the lawn,  vacuum the rugs,  and make their beds.   Sometimes

these  chores may not be done as well or as quickly as the  adult

could  do them but the adult should resist the temptation  to  do

them  over  or  do  them  for the child  even  if  that  is  more

efficient.   When  adults  do that they are giving a  message  to

children that they are not important and cannot contribute to the

well being of the family.
Some  parents pay children for doing chores in the  form  of

allowances.   I do not think that is a good practice.  Allowances

are  mainly  for the purpose of helping children  deal  with  and

understand  the  value of money.   You may want to pay for  extra

jobs you might done around the house but I feel that agreed upon,

evenly  distributed chores,  should not fit that category.   When

children have allowances,  the money should really be  considered

theirs  to be used as they see fit.   Parents may want to  advise

but  children need to learn to take the consequences of misuse of

money.  If they spend their money on something foolish, they will

not  learn anything if parents bail them out later and give  them

more  money  when they have used  up  their  allowances.   Before

allowances  are  given,  the family should negotiate what is  the

children’s  responsibilty  in relation to  what  their  allowance

The  assigning  of  agreed  upon chores and  the  giving  of

allowances  when  done well both have the  potential  of  helping

children to develop into responsible adults.

Posted in Behavior, From Experience, Getting the Most For Your Child, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Chores and Allowances

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