getting kids to do their chores

We tried a number of way to get our 3 kids to consistently help out around the house, we struggled to get them to do their chores or worse created flash points and arguments.

For the last year we have been running a simple system, which has been working pretty well. With 3 kids & 5 busy lives, nothing will work perfectly, but this seems to be better than anything else we have tried.

As I am sure many people do, we link jobs done to small cash payments/allowance. The size of their monthly allowance is determined by the number of jobs done satisfactorily that month.

We have a list of jobs written out for each day of the week, I keep the list in excel, and print out a single page sheet for tracking the week’s chores. The job list stays the same week on week, so everyone starts to learn which jobs get done on a Monday or at the weekend etc.

As each job is completed and checked, it gets ticked off, and at the end of the week the total is added up. I keep a running score sheet, paying the allowance monthly.

We have agreed a definition between basic essentials (in our case; school clothes, basic clothes & books) and the extra, nice to have or individual treats that are up to them individually (games, sweets, music, branded or fashion clothes, trips etc). We pay for the basics, everything else is up to them. Everyone has to agree to this plan, and there has to be a reasonable definition of what is basic and what is extra.

Since starting the system we have added a few minor improvements;

• every day an additional tick can be gained for getting on with the jobs without needing to be nagged or continually reminded (and specifically not fighting about it)

• a bonus number of ticks can be gained for doing all of the jobs listed.

• adding an ‘ask if anything extra needs doing today?’ task, and allowing extra ticks to be added for these ad hoc chores.

• we apply a different multiplier per job to different kids, and change the rules of what is basic and what is extra with each kid. The expectation on an 8 year old to manage their finances is different to that of a 14 year old.

This system works pretty well for us, by linking cash to jobs/chores it is a little materialistic or too much like work, which might not fit for some people’s view of life or personal circumstances. I think it is a realistic message, as long as it is kept perspective, for all kids to learn from an early age. Family life should be based on shared responsibility and it should reflect the real world.



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