Child Labor

June 8, 2010

As is obvious from my recent laundry posts, things are in need of a good shake-up around our house. The laundry and your helpful comments got me thinking about the distribution of chores. And then Noah, who has been furiously studying his Lego booklets, started asking for an allowance to assuage his Lego lust. And now I am back with another request for help. What do you do in your house? Do you give your kids allowances? If so, how much? Do you have set chores or a rotating list? Do your kids do the chores without constant whining and angst? If so, how do you make that magic happen? What are appropriate chores for a 7 year old boy and 4 1/2 year old girl (the half is very important these days)?

With the end of school quickly approaching, it seems like a good time to put a new system in place for the summer and once again I see my mother in myself. I now know why she would periodically come home from the library loaded down with books on parenting and organization. Our tiny library doesn't have many books on this topic of child labor, so I hoping you will once again give me some good ideas.
Karla said...

Hey Lucia,

Hope you're doing well. I've read many articles, but I must admit we haven't been very consistent. Recently we've taken the approach that there are some "given" responsibilities (picking up clothes/toys, making the bed) and we've given allowance to Emily for collecting the trash throughout the house on trash nights and Russell's responsibility has been to water the outside plants. They get $1 (maybe we're cheap?) and then we talk about spending/saving that money. Emily really gets into it (also being 4 1/2!). Sometimes we have to "encourage" Russell---he also could spend time with Legos 24/7. I always enjoy reading your posts. Karla.

katy said...

Just had a conversation with friends about this very topic. There are just so many issues to consider with allowance. A big one for me is what they will buy with the allowance. It would hard to see them spend it on a bunch of plastic crap (polly pockets, etc.) But, then again, it is "their" money. So far my plan is to put it off as long as possible. Looking forward to reading the comments on this post.

likeschocolate said...

I think there are several websites that say how much you should give each child according to their age; however, our 11 year old gets $20 a month and the 8 year old gets $15 dollars a month. Then their are rules that come with that month first 10% tithing to church, 1/2 goes in the bank and the rest is to spend. We do not have any set chores except brush teeth and make bed. Usually, the help with unloading dishwasher, taking out trash, putting away laundry, setting table or clearing table, and picking up toys. Sometimes I will even ask them to keep an eye out on their little brother while he is playing outside. Good Luck!

Jessica said...

Looking forward to hearing what you decide to do (also pondering this topic). I got paid for the chores I did growing up, but there is another school of thought out there that kids should be given an allowance independent of chores. I don't know how I feel about that, but it is interesting to consider other views. Best of luck. Can't wait to read your follow up. ;)

stacy Kadesh said...

We make a list of all the things that need to get done around the house: setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the hardwood floors, emptying bedroom and bathroom garbages, etc. Basically all of the things that I am forever doing that don't require much experience. Then we made a grid with all of the jobs on it (multiple times-I decided how many times a job should be done during a given week) and each girl had to do 5 jobs a week. They could choose which jobs and after they completed it they initialed the box with that job in it. At the end of the week, we checked to see that each girls had completed 5 jobs and they were given their allowance. We give the girls an allowance that equals their age. They have to use that money for for the extra things they want. Sarah our 15 yr old uses hers for movies, trips to frozen yogurt - anything she does with her friends. I let them choose how to spend it because they have to know what it feels like to have it gone to decide if the expenditure was worth it or not. That being said we do encourage them to put it in the bank with matching fund opportunities.
It works great and I don't do any reminding-it is up to them to get their 5 jobs done. I love it and feel like we are all working together.

Cami said...

I change my strategy each year as my kids are in different stages. Here is our "chore chart" nowadays:

1. Get dressed/brush teeth.
2. Tidy room/make bed.
3. Practice Piano.
4. House chore.
5. 5-minute pick up.
6. Pajamas/teeth/prayers.

The 5-minute pick up is before bed, so I always have a clean playroom for the morning. The House chore is anything I need them to do (I do emptying dishwasher, dusting, picking up a certain room, finding sock matches, wiping down bathroom counters/sinks/toilets, washing windows, sorting laundry, etc.) Anything that needs to be done. It doesn't help ME usually, and isn't always done well, but they are learning, and that's really the point. If they've done all their chores for the day, they get extra screen time. If they've done all their chores for a week, they get a special treat or outing. If they've done all their chores for a month, they get a big prize. (This month we're tricking out the "secret lab.") If they DON'T do their chores, they get screen time taken away. (Screen time is a big motivator around here. Of course, after the summer, we'll have to change that motivator.) We also have rules written down and consequences for breaking them. They get rewards and punishments for everything, and it is all written for them to see. Even when they can't read, that really helps. I personally don't think my kids need money, because they always spend it on internet game memberships, and I don't like that, but I like them to be able to choose. They can do extra big things for money, and they get money on their birthday and holidays from relatives. So they have enough of an income for 7 and 8-year olds, I think. We just get the prizes they'd want anyway as the rewards, then we have a little more control if we want to say no to certain things. Sometimes they choose family outings! Would that happen with their own money? Nope. Anyway, that's been working for us.

Anonymous said...

We don't do allowance. Not to say we won't at some point. BUT right now we feel like they get just about anything they want and absolutely all they need. They do clean up their rooms each night. They help fold and put up their own laundry. (Not that great but they do it.)

I explain it like this: We all have to help because that is what family is about. They don't have to 'pay' me to fix meals and wash clothes, etc. I shouldn't have to pay to have them clean up their own room.

Now when they get bigger, maybe there will be a shift. not sure. Just taking it one day at a time.

Good luck.


Dana said...

I'm with Jan -- no pay for kids helping out around the house. I may some day offer an allowance with stipulations for spending, but it likely won't be connected to chores and is a long time coming. Being a productive member of the family is an expectation not tied to money, just like good behavior & doing your best in school will never be connected to money ... just my 2 cents. Who knows if it will be effective!!

Anonymous said...

One other thing, the reason they get just about anything they want is because of grand parents. They have 2 sets. So birthdays and christmas, they get way too much. I try to limit what grandparents give and how much. Or I suggest they send $$ to me and I will buy one big gift (like bicycle or something)

What I've found is if it is something they cannot live without until their birthday/xmas, then they have to spend their own money. (From bday savings or toothfairy, etc). Most generally, I've found they do not want to spend their own money. Therefore, I feel like it isn't that important. If they still want it come birthday/holiday, then I will let one of the grandparents know.

That's just how we work it. My kids don't complain.


Francesca said...

i've asked the same question on my blog a little while back, and got very interesting comments and feedback.
What I found interesting was that most European readers don't give allowances, and are also against paying children for the task of helping out within a family.
Good luck!

lisa said...

I know Im a little late to the game here but I struggle with the allowance thing too. We started giving Nathan $2/week about a year ago. We stopped for awhile because I didn't feel like any of us had a clear idea of what he was doing to 'earn' it. I think for us, we care more about instilling financial responsibility than what chores/behaviors make up the allowance.

Our society just has no concept of financial responsibility and really, we are never taught it in school so it has to come from home. We do the 'envelope system'. With Nathan's $2/week he has to save 1/4 and tithe/give/charity 1/4 and then the remaining dollar is his to spend. I remember being a kid and having money burn a hole in my pocket but wow, its darn near impossible to make him understand that if he buys the piece of junk at the 100Y store, he's never going to be able to save up enough to buy a $10 transformer. Oh, and the other thing we do is meet him halfway on toys like transformers or 'bigger' purchases-- if he saves up half we'll pay the other half.

Anyway, its a topic we continue to revisit and like I said, we still don't really know what we're doing. I don't want it to seem like my kids are 'hired help' and I pay them for doing things they should just do (ie pick up their toys), especially because when they grow up- no one is going to 'pay' them to just complete day to day tasks like dishes and laundry. I just want to instill the concept of saving/giving/spending and living within a budget.

I just read a magazine article about a mom who was trying to figure out a good reward system that would 'stick' and she assigned 'point' values to various chores and used marbles in a jar (ie- take out trash =1 point=1marble) and once her kids' jars were full they could trade in their marbles for various rewards (money/night out with mom and dad, pizza party etc) and I liked that because its up to the kids to be as motivated as they want to be to earn the marbles, but, that sort of goes back to the whole 'paying your kids' like they are hired help or something. Uggghhh.....I dont know!!!! I think the thing I worry about is all these ideas seem good-- I just hope there wouldn't be any unintended consequences 5 years down the road- you know?

Shanea said...

A few months back, I resolved something more well-defined had to be done! I'm horrible with consistency, so weekly chore charts weren't working. I had a magnet chart that I put responsibilities of getting dressed, personal hygiene, music practice, and homework on that had to be checked off daily before play/free time. Getting them done gave them a natural reward of accomplishing personal tasks and being at liberty to play. All the tasks that lighten my load, make my life easier, I listed on personal age appropriate star charts. These included making beds, gathering laundry, sorting clothes, keeping clothes put away, putting dishes away, setting table for meals, vacuuming, spot cleaning windows, washing bath mirrors, (they love the spray bottle), feeding the pets, exercising the dog.... I can always write a special job completed for more stars at the bottom. They collected 100 stars to be traded for an approx $10. present or reward of their choosing. This is extremely motivating. They look for ways to help me around the house, and when I have a last minute house showing in an hour and say, "I am desperate for your help fast," they see it as a chance to earn lots of stars all at once! They amaze themselves at what they can accomplish.

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