Do You Reward Your Kids for Chores or Not?

Updated on August 17, 2010
M.C. asks from Summerville, SC
21 answers

Just curious what the general consensus is on this issue. My daughter is turning 4 in a few months and I've read that 4 is the age at which children can really start pitching in around the house. I grew up with parents who cleaned up after me (and still would if I let them) and never asked me to lift a finger. Sounds lovely, but it made me spoiled--luckily I've recovered! I want my daughter to learn responsibility and feel like she is needed in our family (and, I admit, I'm hoping she'll think folding laundry is kinda fun). I lean more towards the attitude that everyone has responsibilities in a family and if mom or dad doesn't get paid for vacuuming, neither do kids. BUT, I'm also afraid she'll be more reluctant to do her chores if there isn't some kind of reward every so often. Thoughts?

The chores she already does are clean up her toys, feed the dog, and take her dishes to the sink. I want to add a few more, bigger, responsibilities, so if you have any good ones for a 4 year old, please share those too! Thanks, Moms!

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answers from New York on

Yes, I do reward my kids. I tell them "Nice job." LOL
Seriously, kids shouldn't expect to get paid for family responsibilities.
But the ethics learned prepare them for when they do perform services for others in which can lead to an income for them.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

I am also the mother of a 4 year old. My son is incredibly helpful around the house. He cleans up his toys, feeds his bunny, and clears him plate, as you mentioned. He also brings in grocery bags from the car and helps to put away the grocery items that he can handle. Another thing that he started doing totally on his own was emptying out the trash in his bedroom. This morphed into him wanting to do all of the small trash cans upstairs. He also puts his laundry into his laundry basket or into the washer directly. He so very much enjoys helping out that I don't want to start calling them chores, because them I fear he may consider them a job. I was never paid for chores growing up and at this point I don't see that being something that my husband and I do in our family.

Keeping that in mind, we were going to travel to Rainforest Cafe and I found these online reward charts that, if completed, could get a kids' meal for 99cents! I decided to do one for my son, and I thought of something that I would like him to do that I felt was age appropriate. His jobs were to be sure that all of the tubby toys were put away before getting out of the tub and to rinse his spit out of the since after toothbrushing...oh, and to put the toilet seat down. He was so excited. Every time he did one of these things, I put a sticker on his reward chart. He would wake me in the morning to tell me he had put the toilet seat down! He was proud to get his 99 cent meal! We just did that for the month, but the positive behaviors have kept up!

We basically just totally praise him for the good he makes him feel good, so he keeps it up!

Hope this helps! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sioux City on

We all pitch in to get the house clean and no one gets paid.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I try to follow the philosophies I learned that combine Applied Behavior Analysis as well as the Dave Ramsey approach. I believe in paying kids for pitching in, whether that be actual money or something else preferable. As adults we go to work every day. Why? To earn money. Even those of us who LOVE our jobs may not be so inclined to go were there not a paycheck at the end of a long week. So, knowing that human behavior in general operates on a system of actions and consequences (good or bad) I choose to reward my five year old for chores she does. That is the ABA portion. The other portion I learned through Financial Peace University. Here's how it works: (for instance) she has one chore a day to do for five days. At the end of five days she has done each chore so I pay her five dollars, all in one dollar bills. We then have three envelopes we use. One says "spend" one says "save" one say "church." Because she is five and her desires are limited to whatever commercial she sees on TV there's not a whole lot of "spend" discussion. We basically talk until she understands we are going to put one dollar in the spend envelope, two in the church envelope and two in the save envelope. It will instill in her the importance of financial planning and responsibility as well as budgeting to spend and being generous with our money in a church community where we believe God is doing amazing work. Now, it doesn't matter if you go to church or whatever, that's just how we do it. It teaches young children lots of valuable foundational lessons in life. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

In my family, chores are a familial responsibility. When I have extra cash, I'll share the wealth, but usually the "payoff" is a trip to the bookstore or movies or some other fun activity. When my sons do their chores well, they get all sorts of privileges. When they don't, the privileges are curtailed. Chores started at age 4-5; at 16 and 12, they're still doing them. Since they don't officially get paid for these chores, I do make sure their social needs are paid for.

But, beware of the revolts that are sure to come. Occasionally, my sons decide they "don't feel like" doing chores. Strangely <wink>, I "don't feel like" taking them to their activities or arranging fun family activities. They get to stay home and do MORE chores while their father and I go out. The revolt usually lasts five minutes past the first loss of whatever they really wanted to do and things go back to normal. Be prepared for this...

Good for you for starting the chores early. In my 17 year career as a jr. high and high school teacher, I can tell you that the best students (not just academically, but behaviorally) are the ones that have responsibilities at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sherman on

Do you get rewarded for doing chores around your house? Our children do chores because it takes an entire family to mess up the house and it takes the entire family to clean it up. However, if they do not do the appropriate chores they will loose a privilage.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Macon on

My kids started around 3ish-4. We gave them the easy things already, picking up toys, helping feed the dog and walk ing the dog, bring his plate to the sink, etc. Then at 3+-4 we added taking the sheets off his bed and taking to the laundry. It started as a game. Dad would start taking the sheets off and being smaller, the boy would climb on the bed to help and then get tangled/buried in the sheets. Lots of giggling would bring the dog in to the fun! Anyway, then taking sheets to the laundry room. After about 6 mo we added dragging the towels to the laundry and helping to carry and replace with fresh towels. As they aged, taking their laundry baskets, cleaning their rooms-dust and vaccum- taking out the garbage, emptying the dishwasher and loading. At about 12, they started mowing the yard iwth supervision.
While in the younger years they didn't get financial rewards for 'chores' they did get a reward. Going somewhere they wanted to, play with a friend, bike rides....chores had to be done before play and fun. BUT we made the doing the chores fun, too!
At 19 the oldest who's job the dishwasher duty belongs to, needs a swift kick daily to continue getting it done in our time, not his. Since he is having trouble finding employment, he lives here and he will continue doing chores while living here.....we don't ask for rent and he does get monetary allowance. That started when the kids were 12.



answers from Atlanta on

What we do in our family (I have 2 kids: a 4 year old boy and a 3 year old girl) is basic chores. No one gets paid for doing them because I believe that when my little ones get their own place, they have to do basic things to make their house look presentable. However, all kids should learn the value of work and getting paid, so I have a list of extra things that need to be done around the house and a fee for doing those things. So for basic chores, my kids are expected to make their beds everyday, brush their teeth 2x/day, pick up their toys, put away their laundered clothes, etc. These are their basic chores. I also have a list of extra's, and some of the things on that list are vaccuuming and putting away a big stack of clothes that I did not have time to do. My 4 year old son put the clothes away, so I paid him 75 cents. (He said he will vaccuum tomorrow, which the fee is 50 cents.) He is required to save a portion first, and then he can spend the rest. (I did not think about charity/church, so we will implement giving 10-15 percent.) The more you do on the list, the more you get paid. However, it is a requirement that ALL basic chores are done, otherwise you do not get paid. My son loves it and is looking forward to spending his own money.

I have also thought about when the kids get older, they can negotiate with me extra things that they see that needs to be done around the house. This will help them learn how to negotiate, which is something that all people should possess.



answers from Boston on

My children all got rewarded for chores. And I started them young so when they turn 16 and ask them to do something theirs heads wont spin off!!

She is old enough to do small jobs. Have a reward chart for her. They love to help out at four. Have some fun with it!



answers from Pittsburgh on

My kids are 5 and 6. Currently their "chores" consist of their wake-up bathroom routine, sorting their dirty clothes into the laundry bins, setting and clearing the table at mealtime, 10 minutes of cleaning time after breakfast and dinner, and their bedtime routine. Once school starts we'll add getting ready for school and putting away school supplies once returning home. I give them a plastic coin when they complete a chore. At the end of the week if they have enough coins they get to pick a prize. I used to use a prize box with books and other small items, but have switched to activities such as going out for ice cream, staying up late for family time, having a slumber party with me and my husband.

This summer they have both become more aware of and interested in money, having received some for their birthdays. I think what I am going to do is give them $7 dollars at the end of the week and do as others have said to divide it for saving, spending, donating. I don't want to put a big focus on money as I view chores more as working together as part of a family, but I do want them to learn to save, budget, etc.



answers from Dallas on

My son who is almost 8 gets a "commission" every . There is a Dave Ramsey kit out there for kids that my husband found on Amazon that was awesome. My son is assigned certain chores daily/weekly and if he does them he is paid a commission; 25 cents for feeding the dogs daily, giving them water, getting the mail, 50 cents for cleaning up his game room, etc. We started it in December and so far it is working well. He has a give envelope (in which some of his commission goes to church), a save envelope, and a spend envelope. He is currently saving for a Nintendo DS in his save envelope. This methodology might be mature for a 4 year old, but our 7 year old is really learning the value of money and the importance of saving. I think teaching kids early on is great. We used to just give him a set allowance until we found this kit and really like it.



answers from Atlanta on

My son gets an allowance once a month. We pay him $5 to collect all the bathroom trash when it is full, take all the laundry to the laundry room, feed the dog every night, and bring the trash can from the curb on Tuesday afternoons. Sometimes he gets more than $5 if he does his chores without us having to remind him. We recently added vaccumming to his list because he thinks it is the coolesst thing to play with. He is 5 1/2 and he is seeing all these new toys that he wants so we have started showing him what he can and can't afford. We went to the book store last night and he bought himself a Toy Story 3 book that came with a playmat and characters. He was so proud of himself.

Hope this helps!



answers from Chicago on

I don't pay my stepdaughter for doing chores, but she does get a "share" of the family "wealth." Her allowance is not tied directly to her chores, but she knows that when she does her chores she's helping out the family and therefore gets to share in the family "wealth." Her reward for helping is us letting her know that now we can do something fun. I want her to learn to do house chores because it makes a nicer place for everyone to live and it helps the family. I hope that will lead to her keeping a clean house when she gets older--as no one will pay her for then!

We do pay her for doing extra chores so that she has a way to earn extra money. We didn't start that until she got older.

We live in a money-driven society. While money is essential for survival, I feel a better value is teaching our kids to be good family members, good group members, and to help others regardless of the cost or "what's in it for them."

Now, my stepdaughter is very money-driven and loves expensive things so we have gone in the opposite direction in hopes of breaking her of this. You may not need to do that. In the end I guess it all depends on the child's personality!



answers from Portland on

I think, when consistently used, doing either one or a combination of both will work. I gave my daughter an allowance just for being a part of the family. Unfortunately, I didn't assign chores, or very often require that she do any chores. I adopted her and felt that I had all I could manage handling other issues. Now, I'm not so sure. I think requiring chores as a family member is important. Whether or not a parent pays for doing them depends on their own philosophy of what constitutes being responsible within a family unit.

My daughter and her husband do give an allowance and they also require doing chores. The two are not connected. What they connect to chores is having time to do recreational things together because they've all completed their chores. My daughter isn't very consistent and thus this isn't always successful.

It's not knowing what is expected and inconsistent follow thr that cause children to be unsuccessful with chores.

It's my opinion that either way will work when the parent(s) know what their reasons for doing it are and are consistent in following thru.


answers from Phoenix on

We don't pay the kids to do household chores, everyone lives here so everyone should pitch in. But we do pay our 10 yo and 7 yo to keep their rooms "clean". Hope you find something that works for you.



answers from Saginaw on

I have 6 and 5 yr old daughters and I give them a quarter for doing chores. They set the table, clear the table, put away the clean silverware from the dishwasher(its all they can really reach). They pick up the dog poop with a pooper scooper and on trash night they collect all the cans in the rooms and put clean bags in them. I also expect them to take care of their plates from breakfast or lunch and to make their beds and clean up after themselves in the bathroom with no quarter. They dont do to much but its enough that they feel like the contribute and they enjoy putting the quarters into their piggy banks. If I think of random things throughout the day they can help me with then I will give them a quarter for that stuff to. My oldest turns 7 next month and then I am going to get a list of things together for her to do and give her a set amount each week.


I have 6 and 5 yr old daughters and I give them a quarter for doing chores. They set the table, clear the table, put away the clean silverware from the dishwasher(its all they can really reach). They pick up the dog poop with a pooper scooper and on trash night they collect all the cans in the rooms and put clean bags in them. I also expect them to take care of their plates from breakfast or lunch and to make their beds and clean up after themselves in the bathroom with no quarter. They dont do to much but its enough that they feel like the contribute and they enjoy putting the quarters into their piggy banks. If I think of random things throughout the day they can help me with then I will give them a quarter for that stuff to. My oldest turns 7 next month and then I am going to get a list of things together for her to do and give her a set amount each week.



answers from Seattle on

We do praise our almost 3 year old for chores, but no "rewards" or money.
We do sometimes reward all of us after cleaning the house, for example by getting a treat together or doing something fun like going to the zoo.
To those who say that they don't reward because they don't get anything in return... that may be true, but if you're perfectly honest, aren't you sometimes giving yourself a little reward for getting your chores done? I definitely do! And it sure feels a lot better to receive some praise as well, as a family we make it a habit to praise each other (even my hubby and I) for doing chores...
Good luck!



answers from Spartanburg on

Mine loves to vacuum, so instead of a toy vacuum, we got her a power sweeper. She will only pick up her toys if we require her to. But once a week she just decides to clean her room and is so proud and wants me to come see it over and over.
I don't know on this debate. Telling her what a great job she did is good. But so is money. She always wants to play the claw game at the grocery store and I won't let her have my money, so I started giving her a quarter when she does random acts of cleaning.
I never got an allowance, but I got paid for grades. We did chores in order to be able to go out and play. My parents had us doing chores on Saturday before I was 6 years old.



answers from Seattle on

ABSOLUTELY do I reward kiddo for helping out... and have since he was a baby (even at 1yo he was helping me make dinner, and cleaning up messes he made, and throwing laundry into correct colored piles).

Smiles, hugs, high fives, praise, random treats, gratitude = "thanks so much for helping me with / doing x, y, z", public recognition = "Kiddos GREAT at doing x,y,z", tons and tons of rewards.

We DO have a chore chart that's tied to his allowance, but that's more of an adhd thing (learning balance, patterns, discipline) and it includes not only specifically listed chores, but also play time has to get checked off, as well as school, and the oh-so-vague "help with projects". So in addition to all of his chores he needs to check off "fun" things as well as common courtesy things.

At 4... my son's favorite chores were

- Windexing everything that was glass
- Spray cleaning the cupboards (I'd do the counters, he'd do the cupboards)
- Doing the laundry (as in lobbing the clothes in, measuring out the soap, starting the machine, and banging the lid shut... I'd do the rest)
- "Washing" the dishes (he did a terrible job, but he loved it, so I let him)
- Sweeping/ Vacuuming/ washing the floors



answers from Atlanta on

Doing the daily chores should be a happy, family venture. When we sing our cleaning songs things go much smoother (grandma+kiddies). When my children grew older we'd often talk about things while cleaning we otherwise probably never would have. No I don't think children should have allowance or rewards for cleaning or chores. It's everyone house. When you introduce rewards you're introducing the "what's in it for me" attitude which will really become a huge problem especially as teens. At age 4 kids like to have responsibilities and as long as it's kept appropriate to age and as part of daily life for everyone it's not usually a problem. At this age play is their work and work is their play, so whatever they're doing they take it all into their very being. You said your parents spoiled you but obviously you learned something good from them or you wouldn't clean and do chores now. You probably didn't clean as a kid because it was a given that they'd do it. They set the example just as you are now. The reward is a job well done. It's a happy enviornment and family. Don't make it something it doesn't need to be. I never gave my kids rewards or money for chores and they all grew to be up-standing citzens that clean their houses. As they got older they come up with all kinds of ways to make money and they saved too. They all started their first jobs at the same place because the surpervisor like the first kid's work so much through the years he ended up hiring each of them. Don't worry and just create a nice flow and don't expect her to take on too much. It could eventually lead to resentment. I was the oldest and my mother expected me to do practically everything -- when I reached my 20's I started to see how much I was used as the built in maid and bottle washer, not a nice feeling. Have you seen the book, Punished By Rewards by Kohn? They might have it at the library.



answers from New York on

I would thank your 4 year old at the time for being a good helper and allow her earn a small treat. My 4 year old son likes to help at times but isn't reliable at doing most tasks yet.

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