41 answers

Chores/Allowance/Discipline Ideas

** I appreciate everyone's responses so far- just to be clear too, her dad and I do have 50/50 parenting and he and his wife work from home so she has lots of personal interaction with all parents involved :)**
I am a single mom of a 5 year old very headstrong, out going girl. She is very smart, involved in activities and pre-school. However, her step mom and I are both having issues at home with deliberate disobedience and can't find a punishment that seems to work. Recently we took all of her stuffed dogs away and told her she needs to earn them back and that seemed to help (for now) but I'm curious what other ideas are out there. That also got me thinking about chores & allowance. I don't know what age appropriate chores might be and what to do to handle allowance either... Any suggestions? The only thing I can come up with is making her bed and putting toys away but I feel those should just be expected and not rewarded with an allowance...

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well- I am so greatful for all of the responses! I can't believe 41 of you cared enough to share your thoughts and ideas with me. This weekend Kaileigh and I went on the hunt for the perfect marbles to put in her jar and I'm currently working on her chart- which she is helping me with ideas for- both chores, rewards and consequences. She was very excited to hear that she could start earning marbles and immediatly started volunteering to dust etc again. I had her help clear and set the table, fix up the guest room for out of town visitors this weekend, dust the living room, wipe down her bathroom counter & sink etc. I don't know why I never thought much of those before- I guess I just figured I'd have to redo it all so why bother-- but even if I do have to redo something (when she's not looking of course) it's teaching her that she has a part to play as well.
Thank you all for your input!! I've been able to share it all with a neighbor too who rushed right out and got the marbles started!

Featured Answers

I have worked with 15 years of parents, and 3 boys of my own and suggest wholeheartedly that you give 'Love and Logic' a try. It is a parenting philosophy that is simple and amazing. I have never met a child that it didn't work for. It eliminates yelling, power struggles, fighting over chores or homework etc. There is a websight, and you can get books, tapes or CD's and even find classes you can attend.
Good Luck!

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Hi M.. I had some of the same issues with my daughter, now 6. Something that works for me is a behavior chart. I made up a chart myself and she gets very excited about it. I made it positive, so instead of saying, no talking back...etc, I said I will not talk back, I will keep my room clean, I will be responsible, etc. At the end of the day she gets to color her stars that she earned that day and we talk about examples of how she was responsible as well as how she could have made better choices. I hang it at eye level to her on the fridge. Not only has it been a good thing for me but also a positive thing for her. When she loses a star she has to go to bed a little early for each one. If she gets all of them in a day she gets to stay up a little later. It also helps because if she is acting up I can say "you are about to lose a star" and she shapes right up. It is something that she is proud of and she can see her progress. As a long term reward you can offer that if she colors so many you will take her to chuck e cheese, shopping for something she wants, get an allowance, etc. I have found that this works great for me. Every child is so different. Hopefully it is something that can work for you. Good luck!

Hi, M.!
I raised seven children and found the books "On Becoming Childwise" and "On Becoming Toddlerwise" excellent guides for instilling obedience in my children. They truly were a joy to once I started implementing the principles in those books. I grew up a lot, too, in the process!
Hope that helps,

More Answers

We use Love and Logic parenting skills and we have found that our daughters do better with piles. I put 3 piles on the floor of things that I have collected throughout the day and then after school I show all the girls their assigned piles--of course the eldest gets the biggest pile(ages 8, 5, & 3)I then tell them that their piles need to be gone by dinner time, we don't nag them. If the chores are not done by dinner, I tell them "That's okay dinner will be served for 30 minutes, hope you can make it". Of course if they don't get it done they don't get to eat dinner (they learned this pretty quickly and only nearly missed one meal and now it is not an issue). Another effective way if our kids won't do things when we ask is to is to say, "Okay, I'll be happy to wake you up at 6:00 in the morning so you can get it done before school"--this method also usually only takes once or twice to motivate. Or the other method which is most effective for our eight year old is "Don't worry I'll take care of it" and then you charge them a fee for doing their chores. Now when I tell my eight year old "I'll take care of it" she is quick to respond. We don't pay our kids for chores but charge money for work we have done for them if we have to "take care of it". Also try using the word contribution instead of chores--it is a more positive word and conveys the fact that their help is needed. Remember to praise them for a job well done. They get an allowance, regardless of chore duties, but can earn extra money by doing extra work. Kids are also very adaptable if you are consistant at your house, she will learn the rules at your house.

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As parents we never gave our kids allowances. We are self-employed so they've always had to do some kind of work. It builds character, we were fond of telling them. :)
If you do want to do allowances, you might check out Focus on the Family, or Crown Financial Services. They both have good resources on child rearing and money issues.

Hope that helps some...K

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I have worked with 15 years of parents, and 3 boys of my own and suggest wholeheartedly that you give 'Love and Logic' a try. It is a parenting philosophy that is simple and amazing. I have never met a child that it didn't work for. It eliminates yelling, power struggles, fighting over chores or homework etc. There is a websight, and you can get books, tapes or CD's and even find classes you can attend.
Good Luck!

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When I was married, we tried lots of things -- helping Mom, praise, rewards, punishment, money, star boards, etc. But I found a strong incentive for kids helping out/chores when I became divorced and raising three sons alone most of the time. The strongest incentive turned out to be SINCERE gratitude and letting them do things on their own time - granted my sons were a bit older.
When I was married, I dind't really "need" the boys to help, so the thanks and praise were a bit "phony" even though I didn't realize it at the time. When I was working two full-time jobs, however, the thanks and praise were heartfelt, sincere. I was so exhausted and didn't even have time to do everything - believe me my gratitude was sincere, which turned out to be the key. I cried the first time I came home at midnight after my second shift and the dishes were in the dishwasher, the trash was out and MY laundry had been washed and folded waiting on the couch. (My youngest started doing the laundry in 6th/7th grade.)

The other thing that is so important -- again my children were a bit older -- is to ask them to do something in a way where they are being considered and have some control, such as "When you get a chance would you please take the trash out?" This works wonderfully because it shows them respect and lets them be responsible and pitch in on their own schedule. I did't care if the trash wasn't taken out till the next day or even the next, just don't flip out about it not being done on YOUR schedule, don't nag, don't take it out yourself and gripe. Let them do it in their own time, thank them, and amazingly they get to it faster and without you even asking. But never take it for granted, never stop saying thank you or telling them how awsome they are. (It has a great effect on their friends as well. I had all these kids helping around my house because I sincerely appreciated it and gushed about how awsome they were.)

On the schedule thing, here's the deal, I wouldn't like it or respond well or perhaps at all if I was engaged in something, say TV, and someone told me to do something and "do it now!" Would you? Our children are no different. I'd be happy to help if someone said "would you please do this when you get the chance or when you get back?" This is very important for teens and preteens.

Friends and coworkers were always amazed at how much and how easily my teenage and preteen sons helped out; they would say they always had to nag their kids to get them to do anything.
Well, I wouldn't recommend divorce, two full-time jobs or raising them alone -- but the experience sure opened my eyes.
Bottom line: sincere thanks, letting them know how awsome you think they are, and letting them do it on their schedule.

"Thank you so much" is a better reward and incentive than money or anything else.

Good luck, if this doesn't help now, keep it in mind for those pre-teen and teenage years; they'll go a lot smoother.

P.S. When it comes to their rooms, respect that everyone has a different personality. Don't expect a pack rat or a person who is not a neat freak to keep his room immaculate -- again, teens. Respect that it is their space and close the door if you can't stand it. As long as they respect that other parts of the house are shared space and will be maintained.

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My 5yo boy puts the silverware away from the dishwasher and can help fold laundry. The silverware also helps with sorting and such. That is how he earns allowance and he helps feed our two dogs. And also, I found that he can help with vacuuming and dusting and most of those kind of things. I hope this helps. Good luck!

These are just my oppinions.... I think you are right in that kids need to help around the house (like making their beds and picking up toys) without being paid to do so. IF a child "needs" money then they can do extra chores (like washing the trash cans) to earn the money. Everyone should be a contributing memeber of the family.

As for the discipline.. every child is different and that "trigger" will change over time. If taking her dogs away works now then use it! Later it might be taking away a sport activity. What ever you chose to use... stick with it. If you give in she wins and the fight is that much bigger next time. It kinda sounds like the step mom is willing to work with you, great! Work things out with her and dad before hand and let them know what her discipine is for the time being so they help you. If not this could become a situation where she can manipulate everyone.

Your daughter sounds like my daughter! Here is what we started out doing, as far as chores anyway. I put a poster board up and put down a few "must do's", chores she has to do everyday: make her bed, take her dishes to the sink, feed the cats, put her dirty clothes in the hamper. For each of those she gets 10 cents. Then she has another set of chores the "extra's", help sort laundry, help clear the whole table, make her younger brother's bed, etc. For each of those she earns 25 cents. I agree that some things should just be done around the house, but I also believe in teaching children the value of money. She has three jars for her money, one for spending, one for saving, and one for giving. You can decide what percent goes in each one.
As far as discipline we started a marble jar. Everytime she does something the first time we tell her, or if she does something extra nice for her brother, or is just really well behaved, she gets a marble in her jar. When she misbehaves or doesn't listen, or argues with us, we take a marble away. When she fills the marble jar up, she gets a special prize, It isn't anything huge, lunch out with just mom or dad, a trip to the ice cream store, etc. We've found what she likes the reward to be the best is some one on one time with her dad or I.
Good luck!

My daughters started at age 4. My oldest was unloading the dishwasher (granted, everything that was too high to put away, was just put on the counter) The other ones we tried were, unloading the dryer and putting them on the couch, and dusting or wiping things down with clorox wipes (which they love!!) We started at one dollar of every year they were old. I hope this helps.

Beyond making her bed and putting her toys away, my 5 year old can
sort dirty laundry,
fold and put away all laundry,
wash dishes by hand,
put away utensils and many dishes,
dust tables and TVs and pianos and window ledges,
vacuum stairs and small areas,
clean the bird's cage, feed the bird and dog,
take out the garbage and refill garbage cans with clean sacks, use cleaning wipes to wipe the toilet,
wash windows and mirrors and bathroom countertops,
and practice the piano.
She can do anything I can creatively create for her and I find that once I start thinking there are endless possibilities. I do not have chore charts for her at this age. I think that age is nearing but for now we have "Help Mommy Time" for 20 to 30 minutes every morning and we work TOGETHER. I feel that she is now able to do SOME things independently but I think one of the biggest problems with chores is that parents assume kids can do MANY chores independently before the child really is able to. Besides, every kid (and adult) would rather work WITH someone than alone. Teaching children chores is not easy. It takes a lot of creativity and a huge amount of patience. I remember attending a class about chores for children and another mom said, "A lazy mom does it herself." I like that.

Allowance is great but serves no purpose if the child does not have 100% say in how some of the money is spent. And that stage does not come until the kid has a basic understanding of the values of and kinds of coins and bills.

I have recently read the book "How to Behave so Your Children Will Too" I enjoyed it and recommend it on matters of "punishment." I think the most important thing of all is to have an agreed plan of discipline between you and your daughter's dad and step-mom. Not always easy but so very very key to everything.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

she's way old enough to do chores! My aunt had her little girls helping with laundry by that point and they are all now wonderful hard working people. My 15 month old helps with dusting with a swiffer duster (the hand held one) He loves it already! He also loves helping to feed the dog. Just have her help with little things, like my aunt had them by starting to match up socks and fold tee shirts and things with the laundry. There are plenty of little things around the house I'm sure she'd be able to help with if you just pay attention as you're doing some cleaning keep in mind what she may be able to handle.

I hope things are going well with your chore war. I too have a head strong spoiled princess t home. We were having a really ahrd time getting her to do the chores i asked her to do (pick up her toys, bedroom, bathroom)and my offers of rewards did nothing to drive her. We finally sat down and gave her the choice to pick and choose. She lvoed feeling like a grown up making grown up choices. She ended up making a longer list of chores to do than I had expected, she also added chores she was interested in learning how to do. Then we allowed her to choose her rewards and the levels at which she earned them. She was more excited about earning a family night out of bowling and ice cream then the little things. She has really improved since we gave her a choice. I am glad the fight is over at least for now. Good luck on your battle.

she's old enough to do dishes or anything else you feel comfortable with. help her and make it fun. i'm not interested in giving allowances or earning money by doing chores, but i am for extra jobs

We have two daughters 5 and 11,We use Love And Logic with them and it works great.You can usually get the books or audio at the library,but you may have to reserve them. Our 5 year old has been doing chores for about a year now, She is responsible for trash on trash day (taking the full bags out and putting clean bags in)and watering the plants.She can also help with things like sweeping floors and using a small vacuum.She gets $2.00 a week and can earn extra $ for extra jobs.We pay our 11 year old $5 a week.They split their money into three envelopes,10% to giving,10% to saving,and 80% in spending.They have to save for things they want,and if they don't do their jobs they don't get paid.This works really well for us,I hope it helps!

Now is the best time for chores and allowence. Making her bed and picking up her toys should be expected. Start with something simple that gives her some independence like putting her clothes away in her dresser. You could even put pictures on the drawers to make sure they are put in the right place.
Have her help (as best she can) with dinner or dishes (let her wash forks and spoons). If you have a pet, let her be in charge of the food and water. Try to make it fun and you need to be "excited" about it when she does it and give LOTS of praise.
Get her a large pickle jar with a slit in the lid. That is where her allowance goes. At the end of the week, you can take that money and take her to the store so she can pick out a toy. This way she will also learn about money.
You have to determine what a good allowance is be 25cents a chore might be good...and by the end of the week it it will add up for a proper toy. Once she starts seeing the money in the jar will will start to get excited as well.

Hi M.,
Have you asked your daughter's teachers how they are handling the disobedience? They might be able to help her.

K. B.

Hello M., What a fortunate child to have so many loving adults wanting to support her!!!! You all might want to read, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. This book gives lots of ideas and offers new skills for an awesome family environment. And, after that, if you all want to take your parenting to another level, I recommend, "Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy" by Naomi Aldort. Enjoy! ~T.

I have a head-strong Diva, too. Her chores include:

Keeping her room clean

Putting away all her personal possessions. If they aren't in their right place, they go to time out. If she can't earn them back, then they get donated to someone who can take care of them properly.

She does her own laundry, making sure it gets to the washer, and she helps sort the clean laundry and puts away all her clothes after they are sorted. Mama and dad help sort them, but she has to put them away properly.

She creates her own outfits. She must find all her accessories (socks, shoes, etc.) and they must match. It's a chore, (and usually a pleasure, since she's decided she has fantastic taste. LOL).

She empties her trash bin into the main trash, and she makes sure that all trash in her room goes in the bin. She must always make sure that her personal trash goes into a bin somewhere (kitchen trash into kitchen bin, bathroom trash into bathroom bin.)

She sets the table, entertains the baby, practices her piano, and she helps her 2 younger brothers.

She must undress and make sure her laundry gets put in the dirty clothes; in the bath, she must wash her body, hair, and feet. She must get all the soap off. Then she must throw away the Huggies towelette after bathing/showering.

She must hang up her towel after bathing; she must get dressed properly after bathing.

She's rewarded with a snack/treat every day if she's done well. We don't do allowance, as she hasn't ever expressed a need for things. She does have some birthday money saved, so perhaps that's why? She rarely, rarely misses a treat or dessert. Although head strong, she wants to do well. She lives for the praise of doing well, being recognized for doing all she could do... and she's really, really willful. The positive, versus negative, attention is just an amazing reward for her.

Hi M.,
there have been conversations based on the question that you ask.
Before I will pass you on my advice,
allow me to say something that does not quite fit into the picture of the contemporary society:
I raised kids without allowances, but taught them to be caring, loving, AND also hardworking WITH JOY. I had an exclusive situation with my sons though, as they grew up in the mountains, in the total wilderness, so we did nothave stores around, and the money-issue was out of not only the question but even their life. My boys were introduced to the society at the age 10 and 8, and by then they had a well developed good character, when they did not COUNT what how and when they can help in the house: it came up naturally: they were washing floors, dishes, sometimes socks :), helping in the kitchengarden, cooking with and without me and so on... It did not happen out of a blue though: I really worked on it, and here is the example, please see below.

Money was circulating in our family like this: "Mom, could I have ... please, as I want to buy an ice cream (go to the cinema). Mom" "Are all your chores done, homework ready, and did you help anybody today?" If I got three positive responses (they never lied), then they got their ice cream money and some extra, 'just in case". Once in-a-while I gave them some money, and they lerned to use it wisely, by conversing with me: is it worth spending money, or is it better to save some more and get something more expensive a bit later... Once my daughter wanted a stuffed dog which was way too expensive. I said this is not a wise decision, and anyway we do not have such money. She started putting all the money aside: I often gave them all the change, for example. She also went to the store with me sometimes, and ran to that stuffed dog, hugged it, and always dug it deeper into the pile of toys so that nobody else could find her treasured 'friend', and finally in TWO MONTHS she had about 2/3 of the money to pay for that dog. As her desire was so huge, and she was so consistent with her decision, I added the necessary amount. She is 17, the dog is still 'alive' on her couch. :)
So, in SOME sense they did earn money, but not straightforwardly: you do this, you earn this much... I was concerned that if they do things FOR money they moight always wait for reward, and this is not an idea of happiness to me. There are times when an urgent help is needed, and people around should be able to provide this help just because they CARE, not for any reward.
Okay, this is how we worked it out, I will copypaste what i wrote earlier, answering the similar question, M.:

actively engage them into all cleaning and dish washing and such things: when I needed to wash floors, we turned the house into a pirate ship, and spilled some water on the floor, as if the huge waves washed the deck over, and we took turns who is the captain and the captain gave out orders (not only you alone do it!) how to clean up the floor, how to wash, what corners were missed and what else can be done so that all is sparkling. The sailors, under the captains' guidance (you in some cases) can also have a word to POINT OUT TO THE CAPTAIN what he missed while ordering around, and of course the captain must HELP the sailors, not only just being a chief commander, as if he does not help, he loses the authority of the sailors and they won't obey him...
when I needed to clean the room up, all the surfaces full of eee... whatever, you know, then I did it thuS: absolutely EVERYTHING from all over the room, goes into one huge pile in the middle of the room, on the carpet (floor): papers, toys, books, dishes, uneaten snacks, EVERYTHING. Everybody helped to do it, ans it was fun as you do not need to apply your brain into such cleaning, just all from everywhere goes into one pile. Be careful with liquids and chocolate/ketchup only, as you do not want it all wet or stained. Now, what do you see?
A clean room!!!!! One task is immediately accomplished. What else do you see? Now, the next part stARTS: THIS IS CALLED A "TREASURE HUNT": you can make it more fun if you take turns, and one at a time, you close your eyes, and pick ONE OBJECT from the pile of 'treasures', and decide (together or alone) where would be the best place for this object. garbage? Fine, run take it to the bin. Upper shelf? Great, climb up and put it there... and so on. If your 'crew' had a lot of energy, make then run all over the house to place things up one by one. If you all get tired, you can make smaller piles around in the circle: garbage pile; bedroom pile, kitchen pile, and once all sorted out, put all the bedroom pile into a plastic baggie, walk over there, and take thing one by one, placing them into places.
This way, your house is clean, you teach the kids to be caring, neat, happy, communicative, creative, and all are happy.

I copypasted this my response from here, http://www.mamasource.com/request/8359052428103909377
look maybe you will find more great advices, there are good responses there.

All the best to you and your family, M.!

All the best to you and your family!

She can do so much more...she can dust, sweep, windex mirrors and TV's and lower portions of windows, even mop, she can rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher, fold towels, depending on how big your vacuum is, she can do that as well (except on stairs). She can pack her lunch for school (it should be approved every day, otherwise it'll be full of junk) and she could even pack Daddy's lunch for work. My parents had all of us (7 kids) write up contracts for jobs that we were willing to do and offer a price...my parents then reviewed the contract and either accepted it or returned it for revision. When all parties agreed, it was signed and effective. My little brother was my father's valet, hanging up his clothes when the laundry was done. Another idea would be a fishbowl with paper fish. Each fish has a job on it that she can do. When she gets home from school, she goes fishing and pulls out 3-4 fish and needs to get them done. There needs to be a consequence when she doesn't do her chore. I don't know that she's old enough to be fully swayed by money.
Try watching Supernanny one evening (Wednesdays) to learn the time-out technique...there really is a right and wrong way to do it.

As far as chores for a 5 year old. There are lots. You just have to not have high expectations. If she cleans the bathroom it may not be perfect. If she washes the glass door, it will have streaks, but just remember they are learning and people understand. After my daughter would wash the sliding glass door I would have to finish the top, so without her looking I would quickly fix the bottom half. But they love to help especially if they get a dollar. Emptying the dishwasher is another good one. Dusting lower things also works.

Hi M.
I am a SAHM of a wonderful 2 year old boy and 6 month old girl so I havn't entered the world of delibrate disobedience yet. I use time outs with my son and that seems to work well while he is sitting in time out I talk to him and ask him to think about what is going to do that is good like if he hits me I'll say think about how you love mommy and show me you love me by being soft and nice. So in your case your girl is older and can think through what she is going to do my husband says that standing in the corner did wonders for him as a child. I think it's important to discuss with the child what they did and what they are going to do differently next time.
I took a wonderful community class that you could look into called "Love and Logic" It is totally awesome and I plan on taking it again as my children move into different stages growing up.
As far as chores I think making beds are and putting toys away are excellent ideas she could also help in the kitchen with cooking and clean up, and be talk how to fold laundry and hang up cloths. I agree with you that whatever you decide are going to be regular chores should be expected as contributing to the family. I think you can give money for extra things like yard work and washing windows exetra I don't believe in giving children a regular allowance because it's not real life you don't get something for nothing when you get older so why should you when you are young. My dad was a major penny pincher, and I have learned to be very frugal because of it. I am very grateful

M., I totally agree that kids need to do chores without rewards. I make charts (all the time that are different) cause they only seem to work for awhile so I have to get creative. But they only get money for extra jobs they do. HOnestly when I keep them busy busy busy they don't seem to act up as much cause they are so busy! But I make it fun too so they will stay busy. As young as 3 is when I started giving them chores. Charts are the best way and punishments are hard but you have to stick with them no matter what. Do you watch supernanny? I love her! She has creative ideas each week. Good luck.

You may want to check out Housefairy.org and see if you like it. This website has a small fee to join but it has done great with helping my children get excited about cleaning and makes it fun. She also has a list of age appropriate chores on her website. Good luck.

Check out "The Parenting Breakthrough - A Real-Life Plan to Teach Your Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent" by Merrilee Browne Boyack. I love this book! It has so many great ideas including age appropriate chores and tasks kids need to learn to be independent adults someday. It also talks about allowance and how it should not be tied to chores. She suggests $1/month per year in age. So for your daughter, $5/month. A personal suggestion I have for a reward for chores that my mom used when I was growing up and I have started using with my own children (ages 6, 5, and 3) is a weekly dinner date when chores are complete. I made a chart that includes daily chores (put away clothes/toys/personal belongings, make bed, empty dishwasher, etc.) and weekly chores (done one day of the week - helping with small bathroom chores, cleaning doorknobs/walls, vacuuming a room, whatever you think she is capable of and are willing to teach her). I laminated the chart and we check them off with a dry erase marker and when they are complete, they get to choose where we go out to eat. We try not to eat out other days so it's a real treat for them, especially if they get to go somewhere fun. Also, for the daily chores, they have to be complete before they can play with friends, play outside, or watch tv. Hope at least some of the ideas help. Good luck!

www.ChildrensMiracleMusic.com has worked great for us. 5yr old and 3yr old

My four year old can make his bed, pick up his toys, empty the dishwasher, etc. I do give him and my older children allowance, but they don't get it if they don't do their chores. I dock it, or cut it altogether. I feel bad when I do, but it works to get them to do what I need them to do. There are other things that I ask them to do that do not include allowance activities. As far as the discipline, my four year old was doing somethings like kicking me, always screaming to get his own way,etc. It was a horrible time, but I just starting sending him to his room whenever any of this happened and for some reason it worked! It sounds simple-but worth a try!

i have my 3 year old help with emptying waste paper baskets (bathroom, office). she loves to help, i have her hold a trash bag and i dump the papers in. i also have her help with loading the dish washer. i rinse dishes and hand them to her and she will put them in the dishwasher. of course i have to reorganize them but it's the fact that she's helping that matters. i don't give her an allowance yet but plan on it when she is a little older, around 5 or 6. i figure something small that she can put in a piggy bank and every few months we will make a special trip to the store and she can buy herself something.

as far as the disobedience, i give time outs, or take away tv priveleges for a day. so far this works but i'm sure that will change at some point!!!

She's old enough to fold her own clothes after they're washed and dried. I started doing this with my oldest sons when they were 5 and 4 (respectively). We've been doing this every week when I do laundry for the past two years, and my now 2 1/2 year old wants to join in and fold his laundry, too. You'll have to teach her how to do it, and at first it'll be messy, but don't fix it for her. Teach her how to do it. If you don't like the way she does it, deal with it. If you constantly go behind her and fix things, she'll start to think that she can't do anything right.

Also, get her a feather duster. My five year old (6 next month) loves to dust with the spray and a cloth, but when we were first teaching him how to dust, we used a feather duster.

Also, she can help with the dishes. Unloading them and handing them to you for you to put away, or clearing the dishes off the table after dinner and putting them in the sink. We have a rule at our house that when someone is done eating (at any meal), they have to put their dishes at least in the sink.

I just started teaching my oldest boys a couple of weeks ago how to properly clean a bathroom. Before, they'd take some clorox wipes and wipe down the toilet and sink, but now they're learning how to scrub with cleaner (wearing gloves, of course), and wipe everything off again, and to scrub the tub. They love it!

Anyway, there are just a few ideas. Oh, one other thing - we had a small floor vacuum that my boys loved to use. We'd let them vacuum the kitchen floor after dinner, and they thought that was great!

As for the allowance, we're still trying to figure that out, and how much to pay them. Good luck, and I hope these ideas help you out.


I have also used the taking toys away and making them earn them back. This works, but not all the time. We have also used the marble idea. This works great. We use dry beans, and at the end of the week we have ice cream (we have 3 kids that eat) and we count the beans divide by 3 and that is how many m & m's they get with their ice cream. Or if there is something fun they want to do, then we decide how full the jar has to be to earn the activity. I take beans away for anything from back talking to unkind words to siblings. After awhile, I don't use this, I let it flow. Just with everything, you have to rotate what you do. We are consistent with the punishment, but rotate the consequences. We are also Huge Super Nanny fans. I watch it every week with my kids. They are amazed at how silly the kids look when they misbehave. But my older ones will catch me on my discipline and remind me to be consistent. Or tell me I have given to many warnings, its time to act.

As for allowance, we don't tie it to chores. We have in the past tied it to extra jobs and that works pretty good. We have also tied it to their behavior before. I'm not sure where I read it, but the suggestion was to put their money in a jar at the beginning of the week and if they misbehave you take so much money out, if they are really good, then they can earn it back...never to exceed the original amount.

My kids love charts. So I put a list of things they have to do on a chart in list form. I have one daughter that can't keep her room clean, so I created a list and posted it in her room. This was she doesn't get frustrated and overwhelmed. I do this with morning and after school routines. My 4 year olds jobs consist of bed, room, laundry away, own dishes to the dishwasher(not sink), personal toys around the house, and help which ever older sister I feel could handle his help. But he loves to clean, so I don't have a problem. After having some that do and some that don't clean, I think it is inherited.
Good luck

Some appropriate chores for your daughter could be putting the clean silverware away, emptying the small trash cans in your home (i.e.the bathroom or office trash) or help set the table. Just think of the little things you do around your home. I do allowance, but also agree with you- that some things should be expected. However, I like the idea of getting my kids in the habit of saving a percentage of money for college and also working towards a goal. Not only does it teach them to save, but also gets them in the mindframe that their education extends past high school. Also, if they want to buy a toy they have something to work towards and hopefully it will be more meaning ful to them. If you're not ready for an allowance you could try a marble jar. This is used for positive reinforcement. When you catch them doing something good you tell her to put in X number of marbles in her jar. For instance, if she cleans her mess up without complaining, shares a toy with a friend, smiles a lot that day, etc have her fill her jar. Make sure you tell her specifically what she did that was good. When it's full she gets to pick a reward. Sometimes our kids pick a toy or maybe dinner with a parent, it's up to them- as long as it's reasonable.

I also have a very strong willed 5-yr old girl. She is very logical too. The only punishment that has ever been effective for her is the naughty corner. One minute per year of age has worked for us. We don't communicate with her at all while she is in there, she can see us continue on with our activities, but we do not make eye contact or speak with her. We set the timer and when it goes off I go back and sit with her and discuss at eye level why she was in the naughty corner, and tell her I know she is a good girl and can do better than that, I tell her that I love her and make her apologize (to me, sister, or her father) for her behavior. Taking toys away didn't work for me, she would cry about the toy but not really care that she had done something wrong, she only cared about the toy, not the misbehavior. The isolation of the corner is really effective for both my children.

As far as chores go a five year old is old enough to clean bathrooms, do dishes, vacuum the sofa, dust, and pretty much most household chores. She will need a lot of patient instruction before she is proficient at the chores. Make sure every single little step is spelled out for her for the first little while.

My husband and I also attach an allowance to chores. When our children turn 5 they have to start doing a set amount of chores every day/week. At that time they also start getting a very small allowance of 50 cents per week. We tell them that they are now old enough to do chores and that they are also old enough to handle money. They are not paid to do chores, that is just part of life. However, if they are not responsible enough to do their chores, they are not responsible enough to have money and they don't get their allowance for a while. This has worked really well for us.

As far as the age appropriate chores there are lots. I have my four yr old putting away her own laundry, I wash,dry and fold--she'll put them away. It really surprised me, but she made my bed this morning. You could have her help load and unload the dishwasher (with assistance of course) wash the table off, take out the trash, feed a pet....the list could go on and on. With my children I take the approach of teaching them how to do the chore first and then gradually let them do it more and more with out supervision. This way they understand exactly what you expect them to do and how it needs to be done and after a few times of you helping and then just watching---soon they will be able to do it without you there.
J. SAHM with 6 kids

Making her bed and picking up her toys SHOULD be expected. At 5 she can also help to sort her laundry and carry it to the laundry room, as well as sorting, folding, and putting it away. She can also help to set the table, if you give her the plates one at a time, as well as setting out the silverware. At 5 she should have a fairly solid attention span, so she shouldn't have any problems with drawn out chores. She can help pick up before you sweep and mop or vacuum the carpet too, and maybe vacuum her own room too. Most of whats going to limit her is height and strength. Anything that you feel that she understands well enough (what do do, how to do it) she should be able to do.
As far as discipline goes, My kids got time out, and now, if their rooms aren't clean they don't get video games or get to go to friends places or have friends over. How socially oriented is she? That may be something to look as when she misbehaves. Also, talk to her. Ask her why she's so angry that she ignores what you ask. Is she upset about a step mom, is someone in the family expecting and she no longer is the center of attention, or are there step sibs that may be picking on her? Finally, she may just be trying to find a little independence as well. Try letting her make some choices, what to have for dinner, what to wear to pre-school, unless it's court ordered, even whether or not she wants to spend the weekend with dad.
It's nice to see that you have a decent communication base with her step mom. All of her parents are going to need to be on the same page for this to work, and for her to become more balanced with herself.
Good Luck, and don't forget to communicate.

You have a lot of really great ideas already! One thing I did to vary the monotony of chores was to fill a jar with slips of paper with various rewards written on them. Whenever someone finished a job around the house they got to choose a slip of paper. They held amounts of money from 10 cents through $2.00, as well as "choose a family evening activity under $30", "you get to choose what we have for dinner", "you can go with mom to the Dollar Store and choose 2 things", and even "Wow! Thank you for doing that service for the family! You rock!" I tried to be creative and it worked really well...even for my husband! He was pretty excited to get a reward for doing jobs around the house, no matter what the reward ended up being.
We decided not to give allowances because we don't earn money for doing nothing, so it's not realistic for our kids to either. But we gave them lots of opportunities to earn money whenever they wanted to.
You would be surprised at what 5 year olds are capable of when it is expected from them. (I'm a Kindergarten teacher too.) :)
I have also learned that the reward system works WAY better than the punishment system, although there are times when negative consequences are necessary. As long as the positives outweigh the negatives at least 10:1 it seems that behavior and attitudes can be changed for the long run. I have a wonderful married daughter and a 14 year old daughter who is learning to be wonderful. :)

Hi M.!
I'm a mom of 4 kiddos, 2 girls and 2 boys. They range in age from 12 to 2. We have tried MANY things because they are all very different. What seemed to work best for the 3 older ones and seems to work regardless of the age difference, is a marble jar. We started them out with 10 (grace) marbles each. Then we sat down and told them the rules. If they were asked more than once to do something, disobeyed, didn't do chores, etc. they lost a marble. If they obeyed or did something without being told, they received a marble. We don't do allowance because I feel they need to contribute to the family and we all do our part...I don't get paid to do the dishes or clean my room. But then at the end of the month....or since she is 5 maybe you want to do a week at a time....they trade them in for something. For my oldest, we set a dollar amount to her marbles so she could buy something or save up for something. With the middle one, she needs 30 marbles to go to "kids night out" once a month. And my 6 year old trades them in for time....time on playstation, go to minature golf with dad, swimming with mom, whatever. You can set it for whatever matters to her. Being consistent is the hard part...you may lose your marbles!! :))

Definitely thinking on the right track--- paying a child for things that they should do isn't really a good idea... however a 5 year old can take on chores...

there are some great ideas on the internet if you search for free chore charts or printable chore charts.

When you decide on the chores make sure she understands the difference between the expected and the payed... and that the payed ones are a job that has to be done still not really a choice. The expected if not completed or if you have to do them may mean she has to use her allowance to pay you if you do them... my son is four and was allways losing his shoes and the other day I told him if I find your shoes you owe me a quarter... He realized that it wasn't so hard to find his own shoes pretty quick. We really haven't set up the allowance thing yet, waiting till he turns five. Same with making the bed and cleaning up toys.

Five year old can wash windows, clean bathrooms (not deep clean) sweep/mop floors, do dishes... it just takes monitoring at first. As summer comes, racking the grass, leaves, cleaning the yard, if there are animals in the yard picking up the yucky stuff... Things that you might pay someone else to do, you should allow your children to do and pay them if they are willing.

There was a thread not to long ago about this same topic- you might look it up it was really great.

Hang in there. Keep in mind that usually this type of behavior goes in phases. Good for a few months, more difficult for a few-- be patient, be consistent. I find that when a difficult phase comes, one on one time is a panacea. Actually, mommy daughter or daddy daughter dates is great to do regularly all the time. Not to be too personal, but is she getting any one on one time with her dad?

I also happen to agree that there are basic responsibilities that our children have just for being a part of our family team. Allowance for my children is earned when they exceed the expected behaviors. I use a program called easy child that I purchased off the internet. I use it for my 8 and 9 year olds. I started using it for my 5 year old daughter, but stopped because I decided she is still a little too young for allowance. Money really isn't her currency right now.

I've saved the best for last: Catch her doing good! I am so grateful that someone told me this a long time ago. There have to be consequences for our behaviors. Be clear with her about the consequences ahead of time. That said, I believe in positive rather than negative reinforcement. Rewards work much better for reinforcing good behaviors. If she makes her bed- reward her with a mommy daughter date. Never remake her bed either- that's hard, but she'll get better with time. Find excuses to praise her and she will rise to your expectations.

Good luck!

Hi, M.!
I raised seven children and found the books "On Becoming Childwise" and "On Becoming Toddlerwise" excellent guides for instilling obedience in my children. They truly were a joy to once I started implementing the principles in those books. I grew up a lot, too, in the process!
Hope that helps,

Hi M.. I had some of the same issues with my daughter, now 6. Something that works for me is a behavior chart. I made up a chart myself and she gets very excited about it. I made it positive, so instead of saying, no talking back...etc, I said I will not talk back, I will keep my room clean, I will be responsible, etc. At the end of the day she gets to color her stars that she earned that day and we talk about examples of how she was responsible as well as how she could have made better choices. I hang it at eye level to her on the fridge. Not only has it been a good thing for me but also a positive thing for her. When she loses a star she has to go to bed a little early for each one. If she gets all of them in a day she gets to stay up a little later. It also helps because if she is acting up I can say "you are about to lose a star" and she shapes right up. It is something that she is proud of and she can see her progress. As a long term reward you can offer that if she colors so many you will take her to chuck e cheese, shopping for something she wants, get an allowance, etc. I have found that this works great for me. Every child is so different. Hopefully it is something that can work for you. Good luck!

my sister uses the housefairy (www.housefairy.com) and it motivates her kids to keep things clean because they never know when the house fairy is going to come. We've just started using it at my house now and I love the concept. Also I would sit her down and ask her what she thinks is an appropriate punishment for ....action. Let her know that you have seen some patterns that concern you as a parent and you are wondering if she were the parent what would she do? Ask her to take a day to think about it and get back to you. Kids come up with some amazing ideas. Sometimes they are too hard on themselves and I have to talke my 17 yr old back to something more reasonable, also at times they come up with something super easy, and I ask, will this take care of the issue? because if it will I am on board. It teaches them that there are consiquences for thier actions and they know what that consiquence will be before they do it because they came up with the consiquence. I've found it also gets my daughter thinking when she is trying to decide if she is going to talk back or be disobedient, what punishment will I have to come up with for this? It gives her one more thing to think about before she acts. We also have regular family chores, part of being a family but I have extra chores that have set values the kids (and this includes my siblings when they come visit, I have several younger than me) but they can pick a chore from the list and earn money for doing those chores. the above and beyond. anyway this is what works for us.

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