Thursday, September 9, 2010

Allowance, Chores, Rewards

You don’t work; you don’t eat.

Makes sense to me.

I don’t think my children have a full understanding yet, so I’m still working on implementing it without threatening, cajoling, bribing, begging, nagging, and reminding. I have sweet dreams of saying, “Take the dog out,” and hearing, “Okay, Mommy,” instead of, “Is it my turn?” or “I took her out yesterday.”

“Look at the card,” I say. “According to IT, it’s your turn.”

Another example: “Have you cleaned the bathroom?”

“Oh, I was reading and forgot.”

Trying to maintain a normal tone of voice, I say, “Well, do it now. This is the second time I’ve asked you.”

Why can’t I get that “first time obedience” thing going on a consistent basis?

Yes, this is an age-old subject. Most children do not like chores, and many parents experience frustration.

Now that you’ve read my example of minor disobediences, your thoughts are probably similar to one of the following responses for me:

1. That’s a pipe dream girl! It’s impossible to get kids to do anything without hearing all that whining. They’re lazy. And by the time you’ve finished fussing with them, you could have done it yourself.

2. Oh, I understand. I have to bend over backwards to get mine to help, too, although sometimes, they’ll surprise me and do things without being told.

3. They’re not doing their chores because you don’t have a consequence system in place. Mine help because they know the rules and what happens when they break them.

I accept any of these responses, but number two is more in line with my situation. My kids do chores, but improvement is needed.

What about allowance?

I don’t give it. I think the kids should earn allowance by being consistent with the chores and having a good attitude. (We’re getting there...slowly.)

Besides, mine always have grandparent money and birthday money. (They have it because they don’t get much opportunity to spend it because their semi-mall-phobic mother rarely takes them shopping.)

There’s also reward money, like, for good report cards. My husband gives it; I don’t. Doing well in school is expected and normal for them. I give rewards for extra chores and accomplishments.

My kids are blessed to have all their needs more than adequately taken care of, plus I give them numerous treats.

Recently, my twelve year old daughter told me that her friend gets paid per chore. The girl made a list and presented it to her parents; something like this:

Wash dishes $1.00
Clean toilet $1.00
Change sheets $3.00

“Incentive money?”

Sooo…when darling child is strapped for cash, she picks from the list and does it.

The mom says it’s working. But, she also says her home will never measure up to Martha Stewart’s standards. Mine won’t either.

Another friend has a point system. Each task has a point value that builds and is eventually converted to cash.

When I was growing up, I had chores that I raced to do before mom came home from work. I recall a little nagging from her, too, and when I “forgot,” there was a strong “Do It Now” and possibly a “punishment.”

What is reasonable for kids? I’m sure there are more answers than there are kids. But the thing we all have in common is our changing world. Parents are working long hours and too tired to clean and manage. Parents are carpooling throughout the day and attending activities. Technology has given us more toys and gadgets that we now consider normal. We have more clothes, more bedding and towels, more computers, more cars… It all has to be maintained. Plus we have more bills to pay for all of our “stuff.”

Subconsciously, I may not be pushing the chores 24-7 because of the overwhelming and enormous job of managing our lives and taking care of our stuff.

A friend of mine is a self-proclaimed, modern day Luddite; definitely an option for the lifestyle pool.

Oops, get me back on track! No excuses. The strong, able bodied, young people are capable of working for their keep.

How do you handle allowance, chores, and rewards?


Anonymous said...

Good points and this post sure has me thinking. Wellllll.....I guess I was the meanest mom in the world :) because my girls had chores and didn't get an allowance. That being said, they all had very expensive extracurricular activities - cheerleading, dance, club volleyball, and the list goes on. We paid for those - I HATED my kids fundraising for themselves. That was like asking our neighbors, friends and relatives to pay for my kids activities. That was just too weird for me.

Whoever lives in a home needs to help keep it in order. First time obedience - I hear my daughter use that term a lot with her 2 year old. Good luck with that at any age, lol.

Anonymous said...

No money for chores here. And little first time obedience, but generally good cooperation and occasional flashes of self-motivated chore completion! And that child who gave her parents a list of prices for different chores would have gotten this back from me:
"OK, I will agree to your price list, if you agree mine:
Cook dinner: $5 plus pro-rated ingredients cost.
Shopping for your clothes: $10 per hour plus cost of clothing.
Laundry: $1 per load. Dry, fold and put away extra.
Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming floor: $55 pro-rated across family members.
Schlepping your little *ss all over the place: $10 per hour, plus 34 cents per mile, plus gas and tolls. Annual insurance and maintenance surcharge.
Rent and utilities: prorated.....

Stephanie said...

My girls are just expected to help. Period. They are 11 and almost 9. geesh I'm getting old. There is not a set allowance around here but I will admit to bribing to get the craft cupboard cleaned out:)

Just Two Chicks said...

Yes, they are capable of helping out around the house. We've tried it all (chore charts, sticker rewards, point systems, notes, etc, etc) and the biggest motivator, sadly, is money. The money is an allowance given ONLY if things are done in a timely manner, with no argument, and only if it's done right. Half an effort is not acceptable. The money is also given only if all homework is done and there is no arguing. They are told anytime money is being deducted for disrespect, lack of doing their chores, or doing things but not doing them right. Mine are older than yours, so the expectations are higher. :)

Arlee Bird said...

When I was a teenager there were certain things I just knew I had to do like take out the trash and mowing the lawn. I just did them because I felt like I had to -- I didn't get paid for doing those things, but I guess there were some kind of repercussions like getting yelled at by my father which I never really liked to have happen.

I never really gave my daughters specific chores but they just started cleaning up after themselves as they got older and did their own laundry. I don't recall ever really having much hassle about it or giving them any payment for it.

Tossing It Out

Annie Z said...

This is a subject that I often wonder about for when I have children. As a teacher, I often imagine myself bringing in some of my teaching skills to help with the issue of chores. I will be interested to continue reading others comments about what they do.

SuziCate said...

I'm like you, I never paid for grades because it was expected...that was their job! They did have chores but were not given allowance. They got money as needed and were well taken care of. Their chores were considered their contribution to the household.They have always bee nappreciative and respectful, but maybe not as quick to jump on things I wanted them to do. They were willing to do them, but I'm the type ofperson who wants it done right then!Surprisngly, once they hit college age they were willing to help without being asked. I think it's a maturity thing. Your kids are good kids, and as they get older they will take these things upon themselves without your even having to ask. They will surprise you!

Unknown said...

We raised the kids the way our parents raised us. We were expected to do chores and my kids were too. It wasn't because they wanted an allowance but because as a family, we all had to work together to get things done. Sure, cleaning the garage or helping with a yard sale may have some monetary benefits but all else was basically a given. They emptied the trash, swept, mopped and washed dishes. When they were older (like 9) they cleaned their own bathrooms and changed their own linen. I believe that kids should be taught responsibility for their things and things that pertain to the family.

As for the report card money, heck no!

Anonymous said...

Ive always wanted them to keep their room neat and tidy and to get good 14 they started jobs after babysitting for a while...Im not big into regular chores on a weekly basis, but paying for extra chores done...they do need to have a job though...even still there are times of whining...!

Dorraine said...

Some years are better than others regarding chores around here. For mowing the lawn, we always payed them. And for bathing the dog. Dishes, picking up, laundry, etc... the girls would help some. Our sixteen-year-old actually drew up a contract, chores in exchange for free time. After a few tweaks we signed. It was a good deal, and that's just how she rolls. So far, so good!

Anonymous said...

I havent got to that age yet. We are starting slowly now with responsibilities with my 3 yr old. But Im not looking forward to it. Right now Im happy that my children are scared of me...hehe, lets hope they dont wise up in a few years.

I remember having to get all my chores done before my mom got home from work....I never got allowance, but obviously when I wanted something, if I was good, I was allowed it. What has happened to kids these days thinking they are entitled to everything!?

Good luck girlie, it sounds like you are on track, and I guess all you can ask for is improvement, which is what your getting!

Buckeroomama said...

My kids don't do chores yet beyond tidying up after themselves and we're still working on this. They are expected to bring their plates into the kitchen after the lunch and dinner. I would expect them to help around the house not because they get rewards out of it (although I give little treats for them being such Helpful Honeys sometimes, hehe), but because they are part of the family and family members help each other out.

First-time obedience. *Big sigh* Working on this. Working on this.

Menopausal New Mom said...

Well, with having a daughter who is only 4 years old, we haven't crossed this bridge yet but I had intended to use a reward system like the point system you mentioned, the catch is that bad behavior has points removed from the total. Saw it on Dr Phil or something. I still have a few years before I need to think about it though.

Funny, when I was a teenager, my mom worked and I used to love the praise I would get for cleaning her kitchen and shining everything up while she was at work. I would clean and scrub for hours knowing how much it was appreciated. What did she do right I wonder Lol??

I think to many kids today are bribbed and threatened into behaving the way parents want. My stepdaughter is always in the faces of her 3 and 5 year old either bribing or threatening to get the behavior she wants. I don't do that. I use timeouts and pick my battles wisesly. She also has her kids to the point, they won't leave a store unless she buys them a toy, not my style at all. My 4 year old who tags along sometimes understands that we are leaving, the toy goes back on the shelf where it "lives". Luckily, she's only around a couple of times per year (lives 5 hours away by air) so this reward system hasn't been observed by my 4 year old that ofter :)

yonca said...

You always find the great topics Anita. My son asked me when he passed the first grade if I would pay him for this.That didn't sound right to me. But I bought a present for him.And this year I asked him to fix his bed and also to take out the trash. If there is a show he loves on tv, he skips:))And I don't even remind him. But, when I need his help around the house,or have an appointment and in hurry, he cooperates:)

One Photo said...

I have enough trouble already with my three year old who regards it as my task and mine alone to clean up all her toys. But she is also at that stage when "helping" Mommy clean the windows or make the bed is exciting, making her feel all grown up. I have no doubt that will also change all too soon.

Bring Pretty Back said...

Have a pretty day!

Tammy @BeatriceBanks said...

I choose #2 and no allowance here either. Sorry I don't have any enlightenment on the subject since I need to improve myself. When I taught school, I was very consistent, had to be, and had good control over my classroom. I don't know what happens to me when I get home. Guess I get just a little too relaxed. The only hope I have is that my oldest child has somehow managed to grow up to be a very responsible girl, works hard, studies hard, etc. Keeping my fingers crossed for the next two.
I didn't deserve that nice comment you made on my blog, but it certainly made my day!! Sometimes it's hard to see the beauty in your own belongings. That was wonderful affirmation for me.
Have a happy weekend!

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

There are as many methods as there are parents, Anita. The ones that work the best seem to begin the earliest in kids' lives and certainly are the most consistent.

I believe that everyone lives in the same house; everyone contributes. Allowances? Uh-uh. My goal was a 15-20 minute chore every day of the week, having them keep their rooms tidy all the time, and lending a hand with something extra sometimes on the weekend.

The mantra around me was, if everyone gets stuff done, then we can all have plenty of time for fun.

My kids also had expensive extracurricular activities and they did not have to pay for those.

Nancy C said...

My kids are four and two so they still want to help most of the time. When they don't pick up their toys, I say "It's going in the trash can!" and that usually works. Someday, I will actually have to throw something away to prove a point.

I give my oldest spare change when he does extra jobs. I am taking notes on all you say, because I know things will change significantly in a few years.

Hilary said...

I was just talking about you with Ann King (had dinner with her and Don on Saturday). Anyway, we haven't gotten to the chores yet; Mo and Co are still a little young. Still, they have to clear their own places after each meal, they have to put their clothes in the hamper every night and pick up after themselves. Of course, there are times when I employ the "If you want something done right. . " method of things. That's my type A coming out.

I'm sure I had an allowance and I'm sure I earned money for chores, but ultimately, I did them because that's what my parents expected and I'm sure a neatik. As for first time obedience, *sigh* I'm still waiting. . .let me know if it's possible.

Midlife Roadtripper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Midlife Roadtripper said...

Midlife Jobhunter said...

My kids had to participate in chores simply because they were a member of a family. And when a member of something, you help out. Period. (of course they still argued that the garbage could be taken out tomorrow as well as today. That never changes.)

They received an allowance that wasn't related to their chores. The amount consisted of 1/2 their age per week. So, the five year old got $2.50. Of that, half, $1.25, had to go into the credit union. By the time the older two were 20 and 18, they took that allowance savings - then $3000, and bought a Eurail pass, hostel membership, and spent 5 weeks in Europe. (My husband and I used miles to get them to Paris and back.)

Youngest boy looking for a traveling partner summer after next.

But the chore part - absolutely have to take part. Especially when both parents working or singe parent household. How else will they learn what it takes to live when all participate. Makes all feel they are contributing.

And here ends this epistle....

Hilary said...

Just as Midlife Jobhunter said, my kids were expected to take part in the chores simply because this was their home too and everyone had a responsibility to maintain their share.

Allowance had nothing to do with chores. Of course, reminders were often required but unless they were ill or something really important came up, they were expected to do their chores within reasonable time.

My older son is 23 and has just bought his own home.. and understands what's required to care for it. My younger one, 20, still lives at home and is there much of the time without me, while I'm off gallivanting to the cottage. My house isn't in great shape when I come home, but neither is it disturbing. He does alright on his own.

Essentially it's not only about sharing the load, but preparing them to shoulder it themselves one day.

Abby said...

Only my youngest, who is 10, gets allowance, and it's peanuts.

I do pay them for certain cash-worthy jobs like waxing or vacuuming a car for instance.

They have certain chores that they own. No video games/ipod/computer/TV until they're done. They're (surprisingly) pretty good about it, but yeah, they are no Martha Stewart!

Just Plain Tired said...

Honestly, I'm not too sure how we did in this area when the kids were little. I'm assuming at least okay since there's no glaring memories of this. I'm pretty sure we had mixed results, but they turned out fine and aren't considered lazy as young adults now.

Unknown said...

Kaishon does 1 or 2 things a day. I need to start giving him allowance. I keep forgetting all the stuff moms need to do : (

diney said...

We have a points system for: (in no particular order) politeness, cleaning teeth, doing homework, getting up promptly, reading not playing on \ds and for being helpful in the house.Points are taken off if any of these are not done and when so many points are achieved she gets a treat - a trip to cinema, or a bar of chocolate maybe - and this seems to do the trick!It worked with my son who is grown up now and pretty tidy and organised in his own home!

diney said...

We have a points system for: (in no particular order) politeness, cleaning teeth, doing homework, getting up promptly, reading not playing on \ds and for being helpful in the house.Points are taken off if any of these are not done and when so many points are achieved she gets a treat - a trip to cinema, or a bar of chocolate maybe - and this seems to do the trick!It worked with my son who is grown up now and pretty tidy and organised in his own home!

gayle said...

I am no help!! I had a very hard time with my two daughters (grown now). I finally gave up a just shut their doors. I did make them empty the dishwasher and do other things. If I had to do it over they would have chores to do every week period. It's so hard to know what to do. Good luck!!

Jen said...

I don't connect chores and allowance. She's expected to do chores because she lives here. She gets an allowance so she can learn to budget and manage her money. She gets 100 dollars a month, but has to buy her own clothes, shampoo, makeup...almost everything except food.

She's 17, though.

Joanne said...

I always felt that we are all a family, and there's no reason we don't pitch in and keep the ship running together. My children had chores always, and I also gave them a small allowance mostly as a way to learn to manage and understand their own $$.

Michelle Schraudner said...

My mom rewarded us with money. Allowance for chores, rewards for doing well in school, etc. It seems to me though that we learned how to work just hard enough to get paid, then stop, which isn't a work ethic I care to continue. It may work for other parents who enforce things differently, though.

Chapters From My Life said...

I don't know how you pull if off every time you write a blog but Anita you really bring out simple things from our everyday life in a wonderful manner....
I threaten to become grumpy and stop talking to them.. LOL.
My daughter is moody and nothing can move her when she is in off mode but my son is amazing young man who never troubled me about anything.
If only he could put in a bit more hard word towards his studies...

Sohailah said...

I'm all about responsibility as being part of the family. I know I've only been a teacher and not a parent, but I really think the same principles apply. One thing I said to my students was Hebrews 13:17. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."

And I would say, so NOW you're being a burden to me. Tell me, are you enjoying this? Cause I can go on and on, or you cold just go ahead and do it the first time.
And then after that I would just have to say, "Seriously? You want to be a burden to me?" And they would hop into line.

Personally, I don't know that they WILL ever do everything the first time or without being asked - do we?

It's sin nature, it's training, it's hormones - our job is to NOT STOP EXPECTING.

personal opinion. :)

Claire Gibson King said...

hello hello hello!!! wherever you are!!!? you are greatly missed in this blogging world!! Hurry on back now! xo

Rebecca S. said...

Oh that old chestnut...chores. Ugh. Every year I try and pick a day of the week that works for the kids to do their weekly chores, then they all do them at the same time and get it over with. It also cuts down on the nagging. This year's chore day? TBA! My teenagers all have jobs now so it's more about squeezing the chores in, which as members of a family I feel strongly that they do, to contribute. Until my kids get a job that pays enough to keep them in ipods and name-brand hoodies, we give a weekly allowance that is paid when the chores are done - and not before. Their allowances have never been big amounts, just some fun money for saving (and learning about managing their money a bit) or spending on little things, like treats. I also will request help around the house for big jobs like cleaning out cupboards because, like you, I just don't have time to do these chores by myself all the time. It's an ongoing struggle and I admit I cave often, but my husband will often come home and 'motivate' the kids to help more with the argument that because we drive them around to their activities, which we also pay for, they should darn well help more around the house.
Good luck, and keep trying!

Midlife Mom said...

In my day you either did your chores or you were not allowed to go anywhere or do anything with friends. I think that might serve our youngsters well now days as it's a real world out there and the sooner they learn a good work ethic the better. Guess I was one of those mean moms but things got done and there was no whining or backtalk and yes he got an allowance. When I hear kids ranting at their parents at the mall or where ever I just cringe, it's not doing them any good by allowing them to have such disrespect.

Excellent post BTW!

Unknown said...

My sister-in-law definitely gets the prize in our family. She tells her kids from an early age, "Go get a job and buy it yourself!" And you know what, they do! (And she doesn't pay them for around the house stuff either. Says she doesn't get paid for it why should they.) Her two grown kids are the hardest workers I've ever seen and her teenage daughter is on the honor roll, works at a pizza place, and plays soccer most evenings!

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Unknown said...

My twins are only 4, so I can't expect too much just yet. ANd honestly it's good to read other more seasoned parents' thoughts on this to help prepare me! I got a small allowance when I was younger, but I was a very good girl and I really did do as I was asked, and often without being reminded...I hope that is how my girls end up...

andrea said...

We have six---they don't get an allowance because I couldn't afford it!! I don't pay them to do basic chores such as pick up their own stuff, but if they want to earn a little extra money, I find things they can do. I do reward them with money (not a great deal, but something) for good grades. I think it's a good incentive to work harder.