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Allowance & Chores Ideas

Allowance & Chores Ideas



Parent Tips > Clubs, Play & Support Groups > Allowance & Chores Ideas

Chores, Children's Opportunity for Growth and Self Respect

Submitted By: Don Mordasini,

 

Some parents under estimate the importance of children's chores. Those who do implement chores frequently give up because of children's resistance to them. Because chores are an important learning in the child's life and this issue can be so frustrating I'd like to suggest some ideas that argue for a better outcome. The benefits of allocating chores are many fold and not fully appreciated by most people. Below are some good reasons for helping your child stick with a chore schedule.


• The child learns responsibility
• Chores are part of the child's socialization process
• It empowers children to make good decisions and choices
• "Good choices" teach children that they lead to positive results and tend to reduce the arbitrariness of life
• The child helps around the house easing parent burden
• The child learns self esteem by accomplishing house tasks
• A child's sense of "entitlement" or specialness is put in perspective
• The "good choice" learning can be generalized to other aspects of the child life therefore a foundation for making good choices is learned early in life.


Some parents complain that it doesn't seem worth the effort to get their kids to do chores. I understand their frustration because kids are kids and have other interests in mind. They forget, procrastinate, promise, forget again, become upset, do inadequate work, grumble, talk back and in general make the task of overseeing chores a miserable job for many parents.


Kid's have nothing to lose by acting this way and either reduce, put off or sometimes get completely off the hook when parents are not consistent in setting up a structured routine for chores. A child's natural motivation is to avoid these tasks rather than to engage in them. I believe that chores are very important to the child's growth and development and urge parents to try again with techniques that do yield good results.


Changing Motivation
The first step then is for parents to change the child's motivation. The following steps are excerpted from my book "Wild Child".


Make sure that your chore list is age appropriate. Most parents have a reasonable idea of chores appropriate to their child's age. However, if you could use a little guidance, ask a few parents who have children your child's age what chores their children do.


Make a list of the chores you want your child to do. Review the list with your child listening to their ideas as well and getting their input. The purpose of doing this is to get your child's feedback and participation. You may find that he or she will want to strike a compromise with you by trading one chore for another. When the list is agreed upon, add a bonus chore for extra reward points and a compromise chore if you are willing to accept a different chore in trade for the one your child has too much trouble with.


Draw up a weekly chart with the chores on the vertical axis and the days of the week on the horizontal axis.

 

Assign each chore a point value and the total maximum points for that chore when accomplished throughout the week. For example, setting the table might equal one point and you may decide to have your child do it six days a week for a total of six points maximum. A typical chart for a ten year old child might look like this. Feed dog daily equals one point, maximum 7 points for the week. Place clothes in hamper, one point, maximum seven points. Clean room Wednesday and Saturday four points, maximum eight points and so forth. If the child doesn't perform a certain chore the value of a compromise chore or a bonus chore is helpful in allowing the child to get his tokens and keeping her motivated. The maximum number of points for the week is added up and placed at the bottom of the chore chart. Next assign a value to the points. The value for younger children can be a prize each week for 80 % performance with a second smaller reward if they achieve 100%. If points are given a monetary value, an additional five or ten percent bonus could be added for perfect performance.


Younger children need to be reminded daily that they are doing a good job. They cannot retain motivation several days without being told they are doing well. Older children also benefit from positive verbal statements parents make throughout the week. Positive verbal strokes help the child feel good about herself and show that you respect her effort. Statements such as "That was a difficult choice for you, I'm proud of you", or "You have 90% of the points you need for perfect performance, keep going," help make the chore task a positive experience. As the child approaches 100% performance encourage her by reminding her that she is close to winning a bonus reward. Remember that you are doing more than just motivating your child to succeed. You are helping your child develop self esteem and building a foundation for her to interact with life in a responsible and confident way.


The "Buy In"
It is critical that your child "buy" into the chore chart.
I like to have children design a chart with the help of a parent. If they are old enough to draw it or make it on the computer I want them to do so. I like them to pick stickers they can use on the chart to indicate a chore was done. Over the years I have had beautiful computer design charts made by children while kindergartners have used large pieces of butcher paper with crazy stickers. The more your child works with you in designing the chart the more vested he is in performing well.


RULES
Reminder - Reminder - Choice
When you are ready to start it is critical that you sit down with the child and explain the rules carefully. The basic rule is: reminder, reminder choice. Tell your child that you will ask her two times in a civil and respectful tone of voice it is time to do a chore. Most children like this idea. Next be sure you alert her that the second reminder, if necessary, places the child in a "choice" position. You can remind her that her choice is to gain points or not. If the chart and bonus points are set up appropriately the child's incentive will be to make the "good" choice. The child learns that he or she makes the choice to receive and/or forfeit a privilege or reward. Emphasize that the child is the choice maker

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You will have to watch yourself that you do not revert to old ways of nagging the child. A well designed chart with good reinforcement will not work if you implement it poorly. The cycle of nagging and defensiveness always lurks in the shadows.

 

Once you have set up the rules, always check yourself to make sure that you uphold your end of the bargain. Evan when the results are not as good as desired, you avoid the nagging and struggle that frequently accompanies chores.


If you do not reach the desired results then your child was not sufficiently motivated. You may need to rework the reward system with your child or try different types of rewards to get the results you seek. If that fails then you can set up the chart so that points are both awarded and lost. Don't forget that verbal reinforcement is very important in keeping the child motivated and feeling good about himself. Doing chores is a learning experience.

 

Generally speaking, to change a habit or introduce new behavior a positive reinforcement ratio of four positive strokes to each negative is usually required. The reward is clearly a positive stroke; your comments to the child each time he does a chore or at the end of the day is appositive stroke, and excitement about his week's accomplishment are additional strokes. Along with the reminder - reminder - choice rule - positive reinforcement is the main key to success.


Common Problems

Suppose the above doesn't work. In that case you need to get more information from the child and check to make sure that you have optimized opportunity for your child to succeed. The most frequent types of problems I encounter with chore schedules are as follows.
1. The parent doesn't follow procedure. Dad yells, nags, etc.
2. The parent is not consistent in following up each time the chore should be done.
3. The parent gets upset and punishes the child.
4. The parents do not work together; one is less consistent than the other.
5. The parents put too much emphasis on a single chore and get into an argument instead of simply reminding the child to make a choice.
6. The parents may have other behavioral chart systems simultaneous with the chore chart such as a homework chart and the child is "over charted".
7. The parents need to rework the reward system with the child because it is not producing desire results or they may have to consider using negative reinforcement along with positive by deducting points.
8. The child may have been punished for some other behavior and still be angry at the parents and "quit" on them.
9. They may find that the child has trouble organizing his day with homework, sports, etc. The child may want to do some chores on another day or at another agreed upon time. The child may want to bargain for more alternative chores or additional bonus chores.
10. Finally, the parents really need to listen to the child. . A simple question, "Bill, it seems you didn't want to do our agreed upon chores, can you tell me why? Will usually elicit good information about the weakness in your reinforcement system. Most children should respond favorably to the above ideas providing you avoid pitfalls and listen to your child.

 

If you would like more detailed information setting up a chore chart, building self esteem, or cooperating with your child in general, my book, "Wild Child" discusses these issues in more detail.

 

Ideas From Parents

Certain chores are expected for every member of the family because we all need to work together to have a fun, clean and happy home. No allowance/money for those.
Other chores are offered to earn money for spending. All earned and gifted money is divided into jars: 10% we give to those more needy than us, 10% we save (and eventually put into their savings account) and the rest can be spent upon agreed upon items. Usually they save up for something special. They can also choose to give or save more if they like.
We are considering rewarding their savings and giving with a parent-matching plan. We'll see, as we also invest savings for them for college already. We don't do allowance really. If we give them money it follows the same rules above. We apply the same rules to ourselves as adults. Sometimes the percentages change based on what is going on for us financially.

I created a ""chore chart"" for my 8 year old. Its in a monthly format and lists what needs to be done on what days. I've made it colorful and bold so she can easily see what needs to be done each day. Dishes on Monday, picking up room daily, taking out trash on Tuesday, etc... I've hung it on her wall so she can look at it daily and know what's expected of her, so far its worked great! I've only given her a few chores that I know she can handle. I also talked to her about it beforehand and made sure she agreed to the chores, I think it made her feel like she had some input and gave her more incentive to get them done.

Clean up Idea:
If you have a problem getting your kids to pick up their toys, try doing a Buy Back Box. Anything that is left out gets put in this box. Kids can earn these items back by doing chores or good behavior, etc.

My cousin has a 6 (or 8?) year old boy. He gets $6 a week (or month?,not sure) if he completes everything on his list. (I believe he does his own laundry and mows the lawn!). He gets 6 one dollar bills. $2 goes directly to the bank for college or a car and is untouchable. $2 goes into his ""piggy bank"" for special things he wants to save for, and the remaining $2 is fun pocket money. He doesn't ask his parents for money during the week because he has his own to spend.

My 5 year old receives an allowance of $1/week. He does have to do chores, but the allowance is not tied to chores. He is part of the family, and we all pitch in. The allowance is paid to him in change, not a dollar bill. This then becomes a math lesson. We get out the 100's board and start counting. He is learning that a penny = 1 unit, a nickel is 5 units, etc... We use the 4 slotted ""Money Savvy Pig"" bank & divide that allowance into 4 equal parts: Spending, Saving, Donating, & Investing. We are working to ensure that his 1st contact w/ money is a responsible one. He donates his change to various charities. He gets to spend his spending money at the thrift store, or somewhere where he can actually afford something. He is saving for a surfboard (current choice) & the investing money goes to the bank. He now asks and looks how much things cost, offers to loan me money when I say I don't have it, and is thrilled to see his savings grow!

I negotiated a monthly allowance with my 7 year old daughter. Her jobs include feeding our two dogs, keeping her room and play area picked up, setting the table, some cooking prep, and putting away toilet paper after we go shopping. Her base allowance, that we agreed on together, is $15. If she also feeds the dogs on the weekends, it is $20 (this lets us sleep in!). We initially agreed upon $10 but it took too long for her to accumulate enough money to buy anything, and then she lost motivation for earning the money. For a short while, I simply bought her things that she wanted instead--I calculated a nice toy per month, or two less expensive toys--basically $15-20. Later she decided that she wanted more control over the money so we agreed on a monthly payment. The pay is motivating enough, and she seldom complains about doing her chores, and rarely even needs prompting. I was initially worried that she would not do chores without a payment associated with it, but that hasn't been the case. She still offers to do work around the house even without pay--she will wash off outdoor tables, clean floors, fold laundry, etc, without pay. She also straightens up the communal bathroom (the one she uses), and she seems to enjoy the sense of accomplishment of a job well done. If she is too tired sometimes to feed the dogs, we do give her a break without docking any of her allowance.

When she was younger (around 5) I gave her an automatic allowance. This didn't work out very well--she didn't understand what she could buy with it, and saving was difficult. Now that she is old enough to add and has has some experience shopping, it isn't difficult for her to understand how long it will take to save to buy a particular toy. She saves her money to buy things she wants, and we suggest that she spend no more than $30-$40 at any given time, unless a purchase is discussed or planned. We also discuss purchases--for instance she wanted to buy a ""Game Shark"" which gave cheat codes for her Gameboy. We told her that we felt that it was cheating and we were strongly opposed to it. It is always a discussion, however, and we have not ever flat out said no to anything without having a conversation about it first. If she wanted to use her money to buy candy, for instance, we would still decide when and how much candy she would be able to eat.

When our daughter was younger, she had a much harder time saving or understanding the idea of it. Now she understands and even wants to get her own bank account to earn interest. She also donates some of her money to charity! I think that children learn a lot by what they see modeled by their parents--if you save to buy certain things, shop for a good price, donate to charity, so will your child. But do not expect much from very young children.I think it is important for them to learn how to spend money but saving is a much harder concept.

Offer praise, not money, for younger children (under 5) who help out around the house
Consider offering a toy per month either with or without a choor depending on a child's age. This reduces begging for new stuff constantly. The toy should be within a certain price range, and should be consistent. This teaches a younger child about value and choices. Give your child the cash to pay and ask her to check over her change. Money is very confusing to younger children, so be sure to help. As your child gets older, consider assigning tasks. After a while consider paying your child for the jobs with cash.


Lemonade stands are also great ways for chldren to earn money over the summer and teaches them about handlng money.

 

Chores & Children

Submitted By: Submitted By: Patricia Sullivan, National PTA

Chores & Children


Many parents cajole, beg, or even bribe their children to help out around the house and still end up with a lawn that needs mowing, a sink full of dirty dishes, unmade beds, and a pet dog barking to go out for a walk. How can parents get the real result they're looking for: children who do their chores without being reminded or reprimanded?

 

Although chores are important because they teach basic life skills and help children build personal responsibility, the children and their relationships with their parents have to be of paramount importance, according to John Covey, director of home and family for Franklin Covey Company and co-author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families: A Proactive Family Guide Book. This doesn't mean that children get a pass on chores; rather, parents should establish a solid one-on-one relationship with each child. This way, the parents' values and principles will be embraced by the children, and getting chores done will be a lot easier for everyone involved, he said.

 

"There are always two reasons parents want their children to do chores --- to get the job done and to help the children grow," Covey said. "If children don't do chores, how do they learn? How do they build personal responsibility?"

 

Linda K. Waite, professor of sociology and co-director of the Center on Parents, Children, and Work, an Alfred P. Sloan Working Families Center at the University of Chicago, said that sometimes parents simply need an extra pair of hands. She also said some parents want their children to learn the skills of household work, such as doing laundry, cleaning, and cooking. Others want them to learn to pull their own weight and participate in family life through teamwork and sharing.


Assigning Age-appropriate Chores

"The level of expected chores should be appropriate to the child's skill, ability, and what you need," said Frances Goldscheider, professor of sociology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. But even for very young children, helping around the house allows a child to feel like a vital part of the family.

 

Many chores take place in the kitchen because it is the heart of the home. Covey recommends that children do the dishes, some of the cooking, and set and clear the table.

Laundry is also an important chore that children can help with at an early age. They can begin by putting dirty clothes in the hamper, or helping switch loads of laundry from the washer to the dryer. As they get older, they can learn to sort laundry and help fold and put away clothes. The last step is running the washer and dryer. By the time they're teenagers, they should be able to do the entire job themselves.

 

 

Ideas From Parents

Ideas From Parents


The whole family needs to work together to have a fun, clean and happy home, so certain chores are expected for everyone. Some chores are offered to earn money for spending. All earned and gifted money is divided into jars: 10is given to those more needy than us, 10% is saved and eventually put into their savings account, and the rest can be spent upon agreed upon items. Kids can choose to save up for something special, or to put more into savings.

 

Consider rewarding kids savings and giving with a parent-matching plan.

 

Create a "chore chart" in a monthly format. It should list what needs to be done on what days. Make it colorful and bold so kids can easily see what needs to be done each day. Dishes on Monday, picking up room daily, taking out trash on Tuesday, etc... Hang it on the wall so kids can look at it daily and know what's expected of them! Give a few chores that the child can handle, and discuss it so the child can agree to the chores (this will make them feel like they had input and give more incentive to get it done).

 

Clean up Idea: If you have a problem getting your kids to pick up their toys, try doing a Buy Back Box. Anything that is left out gets put in this box. Kids can earn these items back by doing chores or good behavior, etc.


Give an allowance in change, rather than in dollar bills to turn it into a math lesson. Use a piggy bank and divide that allowance into 4 equal parts: Spending, Saving, Donating, & Investing. This will make your child's first contact with money a responsible one. Allow your child to donate change to various charities and spend his money at a store where they can afford something (such as the Dollar Store). Allow your child to save for something that they want, and put the rest of the money into the bank. After a little bit of time, your children will ask how much things cost and enjoy watching their savings grow.

 

Offer praise, not money, for younger children (under 5) who help out around the house. Consider offering a toy per month either with or without a chore, depending on a child's age. This reduces the constant begging for new things. The toy should be within a certain price range, and should be consistent. This teaches a younger child about value and choices. Give your child the cash to pay and ask her to check over her change. Money is very confusing to younger children, so be sure to help. As your child gets older, consider assigning tasks. After a while consider paying your child for the jobs with cash.
Lemonade stands are also great ways for children to earn money over the summer and teaches them about handling money.

 


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