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Chores versus Contributions?


Chores are going to be the death of me. I get it. I know. None of this parenting stuff happens overnight. Some days, though, I wish I could snap my fingers and the house would be picked up and chores would be done.

Deciding to have an allowance and then actually implementing it are two distinct actions. How do you decide between chores and family contributions? Or do you leave it all in the chores bucket?

A young girl making a bed

Chores or Contributions?

One Love & Logic piece that I read recently discussed chores and allowance. I have my thoughts on an allowance system, in theory, what it will look like for our family. There is so much power to an effective allowance system. Even the words you use to discuss chores and allowance with your child impacts how they perceive the activity and experience the “lesson”.

So, for example, Love & Logic suggests referring to daily “chores” like making the bed, picking up your room, and helping to set the table as “contributions”.

Contributions are part of being a family, of being valued and needed, and working together to make a household function well. The approach, a simple change in language, consider the family unit and the home – not simply money – in a way that is sure to cultivate respect and responsibility for these things over the long term.

How to Establish a Chore System

  1. Have a specific family plan for family contributions and chores for the whole family to follow each day or week
  2. Give a good structure for the child by never saying “Do it right now” or remind them to do the chores
  3. Give the same base, age appropriate allowance each week with an opportunity for more allowance if the child goes above regular contributions
  4. Don’t expect or insist on perfection
  5. Be consistent. Expect follow through from every member of your family, including yourself!
  6. Don’t give advances but instead loans with interest (Love & Logic does not mention the latter, that is my add). If a child protests this approach, offer empathy: “Your allowance comes on Sunday, you’ll have the money then.”
  7. Charge fees for contributions not completed, or deduct from allowance
  8. Let them fail. Allow a child to make a buying mistake and offer empathy: better to make a “financial” error when the risks and stakes are low than as an adult when the stakes and risks are high.
  9. Use “reward” language when speaking about a consequence. For example, “We’ll leave for the park once your toys are picked up.” or “We’ll start movie night once the dinner dishes are cleaned up.”
  10. Give your child the freedom to pay other people to do their chores

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