Growing up, my Dad would always tell me “You don’t understand it right now, but doing your chores is good for you.” How is the world was it good for me? Sure, I received a small weekly allowance (small by today’s standard) but there was no way that cleaning my room, mowing the grass or taking out the trash, was linked to some bigger plan. Right? No way!
Well, guess what … It now appears as if my Dad might have been on to something. According to a survey by Polfish, parents with kids under 12 who complete weekly chores are more likely to describe their kids as responsible, disciplined, creative, and doing well in school.
Survey results of parents who require chores showed:
• 87% report their kids are doing well in school, vs. 61% of parents who do not require chores.
• 92% report their kids are creative, vs. 80% of parents who do not require chores.
• 88% regard their kids as responsible, vs. 63% of parents who do not require chores.
• 92% regard their kids as disciplined, vs. 78% of parents who do not require chores.
In our house, we’ve been Pro-chores/allowance with our kids for years. We’ve even incorporated the system with two foreign exchange daughters who we have been blessed to have in our lives. Both my wife and I were brought up this way and the added structure in our sometimes-crazy life has benefited each of us greatly.
Life is tough and there is never enough time in a day, especially when you have busy kids. In our home we are managing busy careers, involved teenage girls and two dogs. Each week, it takes all of us doing our part to make sure complete chaos isn’t the norm. I’m thankful my kids have bought into the stories about how my Dad made me work around the house and what I learned from it.
While every family has its own way to cope with the daily craziness, here are some suggestions we have found to work:
1. Set Up Chores
Chores are really the foundation for everything that follows. Depending on the age of your kids, you can make these as simple or difficult as you want. Remember, the idea is to have them find success, be responsible and accountable. As your kids get older, the chores can become more complex too.
2. Pay Allowance
While 70% of parents generally approve of kids doing chores to help around the house, the real debate comes when the topic turns to rewards. I recommend allowance because it gives kids the chance to learn about how to earn, save, share and spend wisely. As a parent you need to do what you’re comfortable with, but my kids have regularly put money in the bank and donate to their favorite charities since they were 9.
3. Don’t Give In!
Yes … there were times we stopped. However, almost immediately we knew something was off and started back up again. I think parenting is turning things on and off, and determining what’s important to be turned on. However, the next time you want to turn chores/allowance off, don’t give in … don’t quit. Understand that your kids will push back, complain and try to get out of doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re kids. Stay the course because in the long run, you all will benefit.
4. Look For Teachable Moments
Life is about teachable moments, and as parents, it’s our job to deliver the hard messages. Having your kids doing chores and receiving a weekly allowance provides numerous teachable moments for you and your kids. Take advantage of them and help your kids see the bigger picture. You don’t want to be talking about this later when they are living in your basement with a ton of debt.
5. It’s OK To Mix & Match
Who ever said that kids had to be rewarded for completing chores with one only of these – money, time, videos, TV, ice cream? I recommend using a combination of money and whatever else motivates your child. The key is building a routine, work ethic and sense of responsibility. I’d keep paying an allowance as well because of the lessons it will teach them for later in life, even if you make the allowance for going beyond the norm.