Today’s blog post centers around a topic that is bound to come up starting in elementary school when parents consider whether or not to give a child an allowance for routine household chores. I’ll be honest, in our house, we started and stopped and started again a few times. I think it is because I often grapple with the idea that “chores” are and should be a routine part of being a member of the household; yet, I also recognize the opportunity to give children a “trial run” at understanding of doing a job and earning a reward (in this case, actual money) that they can then also learn to save, spend and donate.

RELATED: Allowance for Kids-Types & How Much You Should Pay for Chores (Moneycrashers.com)

First, teaching children about responsibility and pitching in to help with routine tasks around the house is a wonderful way to ensure your child learns to be self-sufficient and not have to rely on someone else to do mundane tasks of laundry, tidying up and making them food. We want our children to be able to grow into productive citizens in the world…why not start at home where they can fail safely but have an abundance of opportunities to try again?

As always, parents can start role modeling how to do simple household tasks and encourage child participation in them depending on the age of the child and the complexity of the task. This is an easy way for parents to spend “time in” with their child and yet get the everyday tasks of cleaning, laundry, cooking etc done during the day. There is a wealth of learning to be had while sorting laundry (comment on colors, texture), while cooking (learning about produce through labeling what they are, describing colors, shapes, smells…to helping out with food prep) and while organizing (pulling out odds and ends and describing objects, exploring what they are, telling them stories behind little knick knacks).

As kids get older, parents can make things more interactive as preschoolers (boys AND girls) often love to imitate and participate in “grown up” tasks like sweeping, running the vacuum, or dusting. Slowly adding in age-appropriate chores into the mix helps children gradually just assume more responsibility.  Search Pinterest for some great pin-ups that you can use over the next dinner table conversation or family meeting to review acceptable age-appropriate chores. I happened to find the one below from Deb at Living Montessori Now and have it up on our refrigerator.

If your children don’t yet have chores, use this as an opportunity to have children participate in the decision-making process of which ones they would like to start trying. Remember to not use questions to give a command (“Would you like to collect the garbage right now?) if you’re not really asking or won’t find it funny when they say, “NO.”

Consider using acceptable choices and keep the tone light: “Wow, look at this list of chores other kids your age find it easy to do. Hmm, do you want to clear the table or help sort the laundry?” OR “Do you want to help sweep or vacuum on Saturdays?” Using acceptable choices is a great way to bring children along and get buy in. This helps children have a voice in selection of chores they can start to take on ..and prevents the argument about whether chores are going to be a part of their day at all.

Don’t expect children to automatically know what it takes to complete the chore. Expect to be “hands on” in the beginning until they get the hang of it. Parents should role model how they do it and give the child the chance to try it while parents observe and provide encouragement and praise for their efforts.

When it comes to allowances and how much to give each child is a personal decision. Some suggestions are based on their age. There are no hard and fast rules about this. A blog post from Money Magazine suggests $1 per year of age per week.

RELATED: Allowance Troubleshooter: 4 Common Problems Kids’ Allowance (Parents.com)

Have a discussion ahead of time with your spouse/partner on the acceptable amount for allowances, and THEN sit down and talk to your child about expectations and how the new system will work. Consider the use visual schedules or chore charts to help your child remember what chores they have to do and when in order to earn their allowance. Systems such as the ones below are helpful since kids are visual and cannot always remember day-to-day what they need to get done. It’s a great way to teach independence and self-monitoring behavior.

Once that money is earned, DO give your child a safe place to store their hard-earned money. Have a discussion ahead of time what that money can and should be used for. If you don’t want your child turning to you and saying, “I’m going to use my allowance to buy all the candy” at the check out aisle, then you want to have periodic discussion about the best way to manage their money. I love the sorter jars “Spend”, “Save”, “Donate” to help children think about how to put their money into these buckets and watch their earnings grow over time.

When it comes to bigger ticket items, you can gently remind children that they must use their own money for part or all of the purchase. This may lead to some meltdowns or negotiations so see my prior post on how to handle strong emotions or consider taking a picture of the object they wish to have so they can put it by their visual schedules or piggy banks as a goal.

One additional caveat: if the child does not do their chores, they simply do not earn the allowance. This will be a good lesson to learn when they are old enough to get a job outside of the home. If they call in sick or don’t show up for work, they simply won’t earn the money for the shift.

If you want additional guidance on age-appropriate guidelines for starting to teach children about financial savviness, see this pinned image and check out the Guide to Securing Your Child’s Credit Future from Reviews.com

Used with permission from Reviews.com

For more fun ideas for how to have the talk with your children about money and financial literacy, check out the Sesame Street website with great videos, downloadable printables and more to share with your children!

MORE: Kids and Money and Kids Finance (Websites for older children with links to calculators, activities and more)

Given the popularity of smartphones, social media and children using technology, it is important to keep tabs on their credit report rating. Children can also be targets of identity theft. Don’t let this affect their financial future. Parents need to be vigilant. Here is a post with practical tips to help parents understand the steps to take: How Do You Check your Child’s Credit Report? (lendedu.com)

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Written by

Nerissa Bauer

I am a behavioral pediatrician, consultant, child advocate and blogger. I am a wife, mommy to 2 amazing children and a golden retriever. Love cooking, travel, reading, tap and creating.