By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
Whether it’s the surprise in the cereal box to the unexpected appreciation gift for a job well done, everyone enjoys a reward. As a parent, I love to reward my kids when they work hard, help others, and make wise choices. The types of rewards vary from an encouraging word, a special meal, the opportunity to go somewhere, and sometimes cash.
The answer to this question, “Is it a good idea to pay your kids for chores?” is complicated and sometimes divisive, but doesn’t have to be. Most parents desire their children to develop the ability to manage money and the paths to teach these life lessons vary from family to family.
Some families don’t pay their kids for doing chores and some do; some give allowances and others don’t. Keeping the end goal in mind and taking steps toward it is what’s most important.
As parents, we teach our values about money through indirect or direct ways. Generally, people fall into two categories: savers and spenders. I grew up frugal and brought that skill into my marriage, which served us well as I was able to be home with our kids and be their primary caregiver. This involved sacrifices and one of them was the ability to pay our children in cash for doing chores.
Because of these limitations, we grew creative in teaching our children financial responsibility. On vacation, we gave them cash and let them spend or save it as they wished. At times, we cringed when we saw them waste it on trinkets that soon ended in the discarded pile.
When we had the chance to pay them for an extra household job or chore, we taught them the value of 10-10-80 rule. But how did we handle household chores?
Responsibility is one of our family's core values. We’re responsible for our actions, attitudes, and words, and for the upkeep of the space we live in. These responsibilities are age-appropriate. I’m not going to ask my four-year-old to scrub the floors, but a four-year-old can pick up toys and put them where they belong.
As they grew older, they learned more skills and soon became adept at basic cleaning and tidying. To make it fun, we called it “house blessings” because we “blessed” our home by taking care of it. Most household chores were the simple result of being a member of the family. We worked together and played together.
As their responsibilities grew so did their privileges. Privileges are their own reward.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/eggeeggjiew
Benefits of Paying for Chores
When kids receive payment for their work, they learn that good work receives a benefit. When kids receive payment for chores, they learn that with hard work comes rewards. I want my kids to know their work has value and deserves reward. Paying them to do chores is one way to teach that lesson.
It also teaches them their work is valuable and protects them from others exploiting them.
Money management is an important life skill. Kids need to learn how to save and plan for the future. Someday they will be adults who need to manage budgets. On a small scale, payment for chores helps them learn how to save and budget. Delaying gratification develops the ability to make wise financial decisions. Purchases made with saved money tend to garner more appreciation. Paying kids for doing chores gives them these opportunities.
Benefits of Not Paying Chores
When children do chores without monetary gain, they learn the benefit of team effort. They also learn that sometimes we need to do things in our lives without expecting payment in return. This is where serving others begins.
We volunteer our abilities within the home and with each other. In turn, the family unit grows strengthened. Our kids begin to look outward for ways to serve rather than inward at “what’s in it for me.”
Kids discover that money is not the only reward. Satisfaction over a job well done is a reward as well as knowing that someone benefited. Gaining a great reputation is also satisfying. Privileges are rewards, but privileges without responsibility lead to entitlement.
How to Navigate this Tricky Area
Navigating the answer to this question lies in determining the purpose to pay or not pay kids for chores. If the answer is to teach money management, then paying kids for chores is an option. How to pay kids for chores varies. If finances prevent a family from regular payment for chores, an option is a hybrid method.
This method consists of “Personal Responsibility Chores” and “Paid Chores.” For example, cleaning the dishes, floors, and bathrooms are “Personal Responsibility Chores” and are not paid. “Paid chores” are extra cleaning jobs outside of keeping the common areas clean.
If the answer is to develop a team spirit, then a family works together and plays together, reaping the benefits of a team mentality. Each family should determine their “why” and “how.”
So, is it a good idea to pay your kids for chores? Each family needs to make the decisions that work best for their situations based on their “why.”
In doing this, we need to remember the end goal and aim for it with consistency. Inconsistency discourages, consistency encourages. Our children need to know we value their contribution to our family unit. We should express it through a variety of means, from money to privileges to encouragement.
Our children grow from having responsibilities and the privileges that come with it.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Damir Spanic
Jessica Van Roekel leads worship in her local church and writes at www.welcomegrace.com. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future and writes about the transforming power of grace. Jessica lives in a rural setting surrounded by farmland and her husband and children. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.