Household Chores and your children — to pay or not to pay?
Should you reward your children for completing tasks around the house or not? The often-debated topic can stir up strong emotions, not least amongst teenagers.
On one hand, offering a monetary reward for chores or tasks is a surefire way to help your children develop a strong work ethic and give them independence to earn some extra (and get your messy kitchen sorted). On the other hand, though, critics argue that the majority of household chores and tasks are fundamental, which shouldn’t be rewarded - when was the last time parents got paid for doing their laundry, after all? Here we look at both sides of the argument in a bit more detail and help you to make up your mind as to where you stand. There is no 'right and wrong'; it’s simply what works best for your family.
Why you should pay children for doing household chores:
The first rule of economics is that people respond to incentives. Whether you’re a child or adult, there’s no exception to the rule. Using chores as a work-reward system can be one of the most effective ways to teach your children about money management. After all, we all work for our money! Think of it as their first example of the real world work-based relationships.
By creating a system where your children earn money based on their productivity, you’re teaching them the value of hard work, how to manage their time appropriately to ensure chores are completed amidst homework, going out and other activities, and the risks associated with not completing assigned tasks (no money!).
By getting children to learn how to manage and think critically about these things, you’re teaching them responsibility and helping their confidence and independence; they’ll really get a sense that the money is theirs as they’ve earned it and they’ll like that feeling. This could also be your child’s first introduction to handling and using earned money, teaching your child about the relationship between earning, saving and spending.
Why you shouldn’t pay children for doing household chores:
For the most part, we’re big fans of using chores as a tool to teach children about earning, saving and spending. With most things in life, however, the system isn’t perfect. Many argue that chores aren’t tasks that should be met with any reward, rather they’re fundamental, which should be taught as a part of what’s expected in every day life.
If a child begins to get paid for loading the dishwasher every night, doing homework or keeping their room tidy, some argue it creates a sense of false expectations for real life. Also, some urge caution that it can also send the signal to teens that work isn’t worth doing unless you’re getting paid for it' - not a message we want to send to future generations.
The bottom dollar (or pound!):
When done effectively, providing payment for household chores and tasks can be a great teaching tool. But if you’re still concerned about putting such a system in place in your household, you may want to consider providing a small basic allowance each week, with potential for further money for completing additional tasks. This takes away from the 'only work worth doing is work you get paid for' stigma, and allows your child to work out certain financial lessons for themselves.
When it comes to assigning tasks, clear rules need to be set and parents need to be sure to stick to them as well. Make sure you have truly earned their rewards, and aren’t doing half the work for the full money. Creating a weekly checklist for children is a great tool that can help with this.
At goHenry, we believe the best way for any child to learn is through doing. Empowering them to manage their own money from an early age (under your watchful eye of course) is what counts. No matter what you decide to do, do what is right for you as each family is different.
Let us know what you think — to pay or not to pay?