Responsibility/Chore Chart And/or Allowance for Four Year Old

Updated on August 02, 2010
C.C. asks from Dallas, TX
12 answers

Okay, so I've been wanting to do a responsibility or chore (whatever you want to call it) chart or wheel or something for my four year old for awhile now. But I'm torn on how to do it. I've heard of different ways to do it, but don't know what is best. One thing I've heard is that if they accomplish their chores or responsibilities for the day they get a little reward (ex: piece of candy) and then if by the end of the week they did everything they get something bigger (ex: get to buy a toy). My concern with this is they are doing their jobs for a reward and not learning to do it just because. In real life you don't get a reward neccessarily for doing the laundry or mowing the lawn. What do you think? Is this okay? Or is there another way? And then my second thought is what chores or responsibilities do I put on the chart for a four year old? Some suggestions I've already gotten is: pick up toys, share, brush teeth, put away dishes, put away dirty clothes, feed the dog, be nice to brother. What do you think of these? Or do you have other suggestions?

Then my next thing I want to do, but not sure if I should now or wait to my kid is older, but we're thinking about an allowance for a four year old. I guess I want to know what others do? This could go hand and hand with the responsibility chart. If they do their jobs they get money. What do you think? And if so, how much?

Sorry for the long babbling question. I know I'm not even remembering everything I wanted to ask. Oh well, I just want to do the best for kids. Thanks in advance for your advice.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers


answers from Dallas on

About the allowance: My kids NEVER got an allowance. They did however get to sleep in a bed, watch cable for "free" and have food in their bellies.

I also do not give extra points for keeping the room clean (cause I simply bag their stuff up and give it to the homeless if they need me to do it) and I never gave them money for helping keep THEIR house clean.

I will say this tho, if they did exceptionally well in school, if they did what they were told, if they went out of their way to help, I made sure they got extra.

And they never went without a prom dress, dance dress, cheer uniform, art supplies, gas money, lego set, etc when I could afford it either.

But this is coming from a single mom for most of their life so I imagine the situation is different for those that have the extra income. I simply did not.

I just think there's something to be said for doing something because it's the right thing to do...a selfless act...rather than always thinking you have to get paid for it.

I like the be nice to your brother, pick up toys, etc. Those are all good things to teach the wee ones early.

Good luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Our 4 year-old has always had responsibilities. We had a house rule from day one (once he was old enough to understand) that toys went away before new toys were taken out. Despite hating Barney, we did use his "Clean-up Time" song as a way of making it fun for him.

We have expectations for our kids (sister is 2). They're expected to do certain things as part of their chores. Put their shoes away, put their clothes in the hamper, clean-up toys.

Our 4 year-old has a list of "jobs" at Day Care that he loves, so we gave him some jobs at home.
1. Fill cat and dog food if empty
2. Help fill cat/dog water if empty (most of the time, we have to tell him it needs to be done, and he happily complies)

He likes to help me clean the floors. We have toy brooms/vacuums. He's also beginning to help clean the table after meals and help mix ingredients/clean plates per his request.

We don't give an allowance or any incentive for helping. He just wanted jobs because he likes doing it at school.

They'll likely be older before we start doing an allowance. But, that will also come with more responsibility as they can handle it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Personally I don't see the value of a "chore chart" or anything else like that for a 4 year old. I would personally just start involving your child in the day to day operation of the home. Let them help you by folding washrags, and other small things while you are doing laundry. Have them help as you put things away after a play session or pick things up in a room. Make it a "family thing"....and just part of being a household together!!! As to an allowance, I do not see that a 4 year old would have much concept about the value of money, they might just take the money and turn it into another toy and it would become lost in their room!!!
I would just concentrate on the ideas of cooperating with each other, keeping the home neat and tidy because you care about it...and working together towards a common goal.
I will be interested to see what the other Mama's have to say!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My kids are pre-teens and they fold laundry, sweep floors, vacuum, load & unload the dishwasher, keep their rooms straightened up, and help with shopping and putting away groceries. On the weekends they make eggs, waffles or prepare breakfast platters for the family. They also make their own lunches (even for school). The have to take teh puppy out, and feed him. Allowance= $0. They do chores to learn responsiblity and appreciate the function of a family. Never, I repeat NEVER a complaint from either of them. They are well-mannered and honor students and if they ask for a certain birthday or Christmas present (within financal reason--one year they wanted a kayaK LOL!!) they usually get it. However, they will start to babysit and tutor a neighbor next spring a will be allowed to get paid. They have already been told that they must bank half of what they earn in order to be prepared for bills or things they want as they mature.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I love Accountable Kids.
This chore chart system stresses regular chores that have to be done every day, with no pay. It does have an inventive, though. Daily chores are divided into morning, daytime, and night. When all the morning chores are finished, the child gets one ticket. My children have to use tickets for things like watching a movie, playing games on the computer, picking a book at bedtime (we read no matter what, but without a ticket, the parent picks the book), playdate with friends. In other words, the tickets are used for fun activities that can be done once the responsibilities of maintaining the house are complete. As you said, no one gives me a reward for doing the laundry, but I do have the satisfaction of knowing it's done and having fun at the park.
The system is very flexible. Watch the intro on the website. You can add money for certain chores if you want.
I also never plan on giving an allowance, but if my children want to make money, I will give them the opportunity. Getting paid for doing dishes so that they have clean dishes for their next meal? No. But they can get paid for things like wiping the windowsills, helping clean out the chicken coop, and other jobs that do not have to be done every day, but help the household run more smoothly.

My kids, BTW, are 4 and 6. They love checking their chart to see if their tasks are complete. And I don't have to nag, nag, nag for them to get their teeth brushed, beds made, and hair done.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

i think the sample chores you listed are right on. as well as those you listed, my son (will be four at the end of september) also helps cook, helps move laundry, helps fold laundry. i absolutely would not give candy or other rewards for doing chores - in fact during the school year he has chores he does in the morning before we leave (feed dog, etc) and he just gets a time out if he doesn't do them. i don't get a reward or bribe for doing household chores, neither does dad. they just need to be done and we are members of the family, so we do them. i have not gotten to the point where i am doing allowance yet, but i always sort of thought i would do "allowance" for extra things, like helping wash the car, or rake leaves, or...not sure! but mine is an only and we are far from needing to worry about an allowance as yet. but i strongly feel that children should contribute to the household duties because they are part of the household, NOT because they are being paid in money or candy or other bribes. you're doing a great job getting him started early. keep it up! those lil guys can do so much to help out!

PS, i also agree with kansasmom - i prefer just including my son in daily chores as a matter of fact, not making a big to do about it and giving stickers or making a chart or anything. however, if you are just now starting him on helping out, a chart might get him going in the right direction. i started my son doing his morning chores when he was between 2 and 3, and it was a struggle at first. we did a check off chart where each chore had a picture and he got to check them off when he did them, and that was when i was having to time him out for not doing it. but yes, incorporate helping into everyday. when he makes a mess, he cleans it up. when he wants to play, he has to pick up what he got out before. common sense stuff. it makes our job easier if each member of the household is helping out, even in small ways!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We do a chore chart and it pretty much has the same things that you listed. My kids are 4 and 6. The kids get a sticker for each one that the do. I have a box for extra chore if they do something over and above. At the end of the week they get allowance~ $3 per week. This amount can be raised(lots of extra chores) or lowered(chores not done) on payday.
It definately helps with having chores done and helps them with consequences if they don't do the chores. It has also helped with learning to save up for a certain item they may want to buy and ends alot of can I get this' every time you go to a store.


answers from Detroit on

hmmm. this is a good question. i will mooch off of your answers. lol i also have a 4 year old and this sounds like a good idea.



answers from Dallas on

My son is also 4 years old. We started his chore chart about 3 months ago and it's still going great! We posted his chore chart next to his toy box and put pictures next to each chore to help explain what's what (ie: sticker of the cat to remember to feed the cat). His chores include: make his bed, dress himself, feed the cat, brush teeth, pick up toys, kiss mom & dad good night, say prayers.

I bloged this same question when we got started and was told his allowance should be a quarter for every year. We got him a cool wallet for him to keep his money in and save for the things he wants.

I have to say, his room has stayed clean, his prayers are improving every day, he makes his bed all by himself every morning and has begun to feel responsible for the cat. Plus - when we go shopping and he wants something I get to ask "Do you have enough money for that" and if the answer is no then he knows that he will have to save HIS money and do his chores before he gets it. My husband and I agree though, that since he is only getting $1/wk that we will pay half of toys that cost more than $4. This way he will see the benefit of saving his money w/o getting too frustrated.

Last week he gave $1 to the church too! I was so proud of him!



answers from Dallas on

my husband and i have just dealt with this same issue! here is what we have decided on. we thought through some things that are part of being a member of our family that our 4 year old needs to do. Vs things that could be extra chores that she gets an allowance for. things she does NOT get paid for are cleaning her room, putting away her dirty clothes, cleaning up after her self, taking her dished to the sink, (the suggestions you have heard suprised me, being nice to siblings and brushing teeth. i would not put a reward to those things!)
here are her chores: emtping the dishwasher (yes she does the whole thing by herself expect for sharp knives and heavy pots and pans. Things that are high she puts on the counter and I come and put them away later), helping her dad empty all the trash cans and take out the trash. she also puts walmart sacks back into the little trash cans. emptying the dryer into the laundry basket and swiffering under the table.
I made a chore chart for her that has clip art pictures of those items. She has to empty the trash once a week, empty the dishwasher 3 times a week, swiffer twice and empty the dryer twice. Once she has done all of those things at the end of the week she gets 4 quarters.
another part we are using chore charts for, is to begin teacher her about money management. Two of her quarters goes into her spend compartment, one into her save and one into her giving. She can save up her spend money and take it to the store to buy a little toy or some candy. hope this helps!



answers from Dallas on

We just started our son (5) on the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Jr. program. He loves it!! There are a number of things he does around the house because he is part of the family and that is life :-) He keeps his toys picked up, makes his bed, helps clear the table, and pretty much anything else I ask. As far as his daily chores that he gets paid for - 1) Feed the dog 2) Water the dog 3) Take out trash (even if it doesn't need to be taken out he has to check it). He gets paid twenty-five cents per chore per day. On the flip side if he does certain things 1) Screaming at me (he did this a few times but has since stopped) 2) hitting anyone then he has to pay a fine. At the end of the week we add up how much he has made & then deduct how much he owes me and that equals his paycheck. He then must set aside a certain amount (10%) to give - for us that is a tithe @ our church & at least a certain amount (10%) to save. Whatever else he has can either go into savings for something he wants or spending money when we are out. We've been doing this for about a month & he combined his money with some leftover birthday money and he has already bought a scooter & numerous other small things. It's been working well for us & is teaching him about money & money management.
Side Note: Our two year old daughter wants to do the program too & her "chore" is going to the potty without accidents - she loves it & doesn't actually get paid but likes to say she has done her chores!! Hope you find something that works for you!



answers from Dallas on

My son has always helped around the house, but we did start a "chore chart" for allowance when he was 4. I got tired of him constantly asking for toys (and the answer was always no), and I think there is value is kids this age learning the concept of money. We had certain things he had to do, no matter what (pick up toys, put away clothes, etc.). We found "extra" chores that he got paid for. At that time he would feed the dog, put up silverware, and put up all his laundry after I washed it. I paid him around $4 a week, and if he didn't do these he didn't get paid. It helped alot with his constant asking about toys, because he had to spend his own money. Sometimes he had enough, sometimes he didn't. Plus, he wanted a Nintendo DS for his birthday when he turned 5, and those are very expensive, so he saved for almost 6 months and had to pay for half of it. This was a good balance for us; he didn't get rewarded for everything he did, because some things are just expected as being part of a family, but other things he earned money for and is learning the value of money (he has to save 10% and give 10% at church as well). We've just now started to give some chores to my 2 year old as well. He wanted to "make his own money" as well, so I've started to pay monthly- $17/mo to the 5 year old and $3/mo to the 2 year old (he now gets to do silverware as his chore, and my 5 year old helps do other things like sweep the floor; also he no longer gets paid to feed the dog-it's a regular chore now for him). Hope that helps some.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions