Paying Children to do Chores

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We’ve listened to the pros and cons regarding paying children to do chores. We understand both sides. But after weighing the arguments, we promote the idea that paying children to do chores has its distinct advantages. What are these advantages?

Paying Children to do Chores: Advantages

We wouldn’t hesitate to pay children to do chores. Money is a delicate subject and the best time to teach smart money management to people is when they’re young. There’s nothing like learning ideas, acquiring habits, and reinforcing behaviours when the mind is still fresh and can be moulded with proper guidance.

Money is just one of the many numerous concepts that can be taught and learned early in life. As Richard Koyisaki said in his book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, a child who starts with a sound financial education will learn to manage money well when he becomes an adult, unless of course he goes through some mental aberration or suffers a setback over which he has no control (like illness or a serious family problem).

What reasons do we offer for paying children to do chores?

  • Children learn that money has to be earned. It must not be viewed as a weekly handout to which they are entitled. When we learned about intellectual and emotional triggers in Psychology 101, children must be able to establish the relationship between work and money. Automatically they must think, “if I help out with the dishes, I’ll receive $3.00; if I don’t help mommy, I don’t get anything.” Work is the trigger, money is the reward. To make this reasoning clearer, our position is that money, in children’s minds, must not be a stand-alone or independent item. It must be thought of as something tied to something else – work. The lesson that must be ingrained is: no work, no money.
  • A second benefit is derived when we pay children to do chores. Not only do we instill in them the fact that they can have money by working for it, but we also teach them that they can spend the money or they can save it. Paying them to do chores therefore becomes a springboard for additional money lessons. For example, a dialogue can take place between mother and child or father and child along these lines:

Parent: Here’s the $3.00 I promised you for helping with the dishes. Great job. Thank you. So, what are you going with your $3.00?

Child: Hmmm...maybe buy a video game.

Parent: A video game would cost more than $3.00. You can do one of three things: (a) earn more money by helping out in the house until you earn enough to buy a video game, (b) spend it on something else or (c) save it.

Child: Save it? Why?

Parent: Because saving money is a good thing. You can do with whatever you want with that $3.00, you’ve earned it, so only you can decide what to do with it. But if you save it, you’ll be surprised at how much that $3.00 will be at Christmas time. If you start saving $3.00 every week beginning January 1, your $3.00 becomes $156.00 by the time December comes around.

Your child’s probably too young to understand savings accounts, interest rates and the compounding effect of interest, but at least you’re planting a seed in his mind that $3.00 can grow into a bigger amount if he does not spend it.

Paying Children to do Chores: Three More Good Reasons

  • Money is an effective incentive. Even if the saying “money is the root of all evil” has gained a sufficient number of followers, it is still the # 1 motivator. Look at how companies reward their employees for above average performance. Look at how fat the bonus checks are for salesmen who meet quota or go beyond quota. Selling earns them a commission. So we don’t see why working at home – cleaning the yard, mopping the garage floor, dusting furniture – shouldn’t also translate into a financial reward for children.
  • Stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit of kids. Another offshoot of rewarding kids for helping out or getting good grades in school is that it opens up the opportunity for them to learn how money can be used to make more money. You can teach them how to save it, but you can also teach them how to be business-minded. For instance, you can suggest to them that they can buy lemons with their money and sell lemonade (it is every North American kid’s ambition to sell lemonade, is it not?). Or kids can buy baseball or hockey cards and sell them at profit. Another possibility. They can buy second hand equipment for cleaning the lawn so they can offer to clean the lawns of neighbours and get paid for it.
  • Waking up the most important sense in kids – to be born with all five senses intact is something to be grateful for, but there’s a sixth sense that we should wake up in our kids and it has nothing to do with ghosts. We’re referring to their sense of charity. We can also teach kids to think of the poor and the sick. By sharing the act of charity with them, we stimulate their sense of philanthropy which they can take with them to adulthood.

Chore-Based or an Allowance?

We read a few articles online debating the issue of whether money should be given to kids based on the chores they do or if it be treated as a separate allowance. The argument for choosing the first one is that chores are family responsibilities and so children must pitch in and do their share.

True, chores should be shared and split up among family members, but when doing those chores eats up their time and they can’t be with their friends, or those chores interfere with homework, a child will eventually develop some kind of resentment. By paying him money to do the chore, at least he has something to look forward to for doing the chore no matter how unpleasant it is.

If we stretch this argument into the corporate world, it is the employee’s responsibility to do his job because he receives a salary. But when this salary is accompanied by a bonus, the employee feels that his work is appreciated and will be motivated to go beyond the call of duty, when necessary.

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