articles / Family life

Allowance, chores, and TV time

If you post the status, “How do you feel about allowances and chores?”, or “How does your family handle TV time?”, you will get 500 different opinions about each one.

Here are some answers (or at least paraphrased versions) I’ve heard before regarding allowance and chores:

  • We don’t do allowance because I never got one.
  • We don’t do allowance because children don’t need to feel entitled by getting something for nothing.
  • I don’t pay my children to do chores because they are suppose to contribute to the family.
  • Chores are what we all have to do, children need to learn the responsibilities for when they’re older.
  • Children shouldn’t be paid for chores because they won’t get paid to clean their house when they’re grown.
  • Paying for chores is like bribery.
  • We give an allowance to teach our kids about saving, tithing, and wise spending.

There are many more, but I won’t post them all. If you’re curious, just type the question on your Facebook profile and you’ll get all the answers you need.

Here’s how our family handles/plans to handle the allowance and chores thing.

Allowance, as in getting $X every Friday just because, is a no go. We spend money buying things for the kids — needs and wants — so I don’t agree with the concept of giving them money to spend on their own. Children can learn about the worth of a dollar, how to save money, and about tithing without me handing them money every week. Since my children will not being going anywhere unattended anytime soon, they have no need for me to give them money to keep in their pockets to spend at the store.

Chores: Yes, Josiah has responsibilities. He has to keep his toys picked up, his toy room clean, and his bedroom clean. On top of that he periodically helps with the dishes and helps with miscellaneous cleaning around the house. No Josiah doesn’t get paid for his responsibilities because I don’t get paid to clean my room. It seems silly, but if I teach Josiah now that he gets paid if he keeps his room clean he will probably have a difficult time being motivated to clean his room when he gets older.

We have developed some what of a system that is working for us (as of right now). I have a stash of fake money that I got at the Dollar Tree. $1 equals 30 minutes of TV time. Josiah automatically gets “$2” each morning to use throughout the day, but he has several opportunities to earn more. Josiah can get $1 if he cleans his room or toy room or folds his laundry without arguing. He’s not getting the $1 because he cleaned, he’s getting it for being obedient the first time without arguing. This is something he struggles with and we’ve found that by rewarding him with TV he is more likely to do what we say the first time. The thing is, in the past if he didn’t clean or fold laundry like we told him to we’d take TV away from him. Now, instead of threatening to take it away we are telling him he will be rewarded with TV.

Josiah can earn $2 by doing extra chores that are out of the norm, such as helping pick up sticks out of the yard, cleaning up the bathroom (at least as well as a 5-year-old can), washing the windows, etc…These chores are a way to go above and beyond what is normally expected of him, after all, as adults we sometimes get bonuses or praises at work when we go above and beyond.

Then we explained to Josiah that we will always be watching for opportunities to reward him with more “$”. For example, listening the 1st time without argument regarding anything, acting right at the store without us asking, helping around the house without us asking, and any other random act that we see that we think deserves the extra reward. These things will change over time due to growth, the ways to earn rewards will be related to struggles he’s having at the time.

We have also been discussing daily things that we can do to take up our time besides TV. He can play with toys, play outside, look at books, play a game, go to the park or take a walk (with us of course), and many other things.

One positive thing about doing this is that we are limiting TV time and have decided to use it as a reward, rather than taking it away as punishment. Another positive thing is that even though there is no monetary value to the fake dollars, he will be learning to spend wisely. After all, if he uses up all of his money in one day, he will be limited to one hour of TV each day of the week. He will eventually learn to ration his TV time. Also, because their is no monetary value I don’t have to worry about Dollar Tree  junk  toys jumbling up the house.

The goal is that eventually, Josiah will be accustomed to being more active and watch less TV. The goal is also for Josiah to learn as he grows that it benefits him to not argue with his parents and to obey. In most cases, we explain to him why he has to listen and why he shouldn’t argue, but for those hard-to-explain times, a physical reward works well. No, this is not bribery. He has to do what is expected of him no matter what. If he can do it without being disrespectful or goofing off or arguing he gets rewarded for it. If he argues or takes three hours to clean his room because he keeps goofing off he is still going to get his room clean, but will do it without earning the TV time.

As he gets older what is required of him will change. The rewards he gets will change. What he gets rewarded for will change. Eventually I may give him $10 to clean the garage as opposed to giving him an hour of TV time for picking up sticks in the yard. That is when we will see the concepts we’ve taught him about spending, saving, and tithing be put to work.



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