Kids should do chores. Period, full stop. There’s no world where a child should spend hours playing video games, popping out of bed in the morning leaving the sheets in a jumble and dishes out for a non-existent maid to clear.
That said, kids are, well, kids. Their “jobs” are to be good students, good people, and learn and grow into responsible adults. Which means sometimes, a little incentive doesn’t hurt. There’s nothing wrong with dolling out a small reward to a child who’s old enough for doing things like making his bed every day for a week, helping with the vacuuming, taking out the garbage, putting away his own laundry, or all of the above.
But what kinds of incentives are worth considering? Here are a few that might work magic and teach kids that responsibility and hard work is often rewarded.
There’s a great debate over whether children should be paid for doing chores. Chores are things you have to do, not want to do. Mom and dad don’t get paid for doing chores at home, after all, so why should the kids? But there’s nothing wrong with offering up a nominal allowance to an older child who takes on the responsibility of completing tasks like cleaning his room every week, loading the dishwasher, walking the dog, or putting away groceries. These are small tasks that don’t take much effort but can teach a child that working hard pays off. Alongside offering up $5 every two weeks or so when chores are completed, for example, you can teach your child to save money to put towards something they really want, like a new video game, bike, or Lego set.
9 Screen Time
Managing screen time is arguably one of the biggest challenges parents face today. And while you can try to implement schedules, like no screen time before bed time, or only an hour of video games per day, why not use chores as an incentive? If the child finishes his homework and does a set chore or two each day, he’s allowed an hour of screen time. This will give the child the sense that he’s earned the time (and he actually has!) and teaches that to play hard, you must work hard, too. If your child is an avid gamer, or tends to have his head stuck in his smartphone, on the computer, or tablet for a few hours each day and you find it difficult to stop this pattern, adding chores to the list of duties required to earn this time will at least make both you and the child feel that something was accomplished to warrant it.
8 Play Dates
With younger kids, especially only children, play dates are a huge trend. Give kids the chance to work towards a fun play date at the park or at a friend’s house as a reward for doing small chores around the house. The “chore” could simply be homework, or something more involved, like helping mom or dad with dinner, tidying up their playroom, or going through old toys.
It not only provides a young child with an incentive but makes them happy to complete an otherwise boring or tedious task. And if their task is to put together books, toys, or clothes to donate to someone less fortunate, they can also feel good about doing something positive for others.
Food should never be a reward. Kids, of course, need sustenance! But dessert? Well, that’s another story. Aside from kids not getting dessert unless they eat all their dinner (of course) a treat of some kind could also be a reward for completing chores. Maybe the child gets something sweet after helping mom and dad wash, dry, and put away dishes. Or maybe they help set the table for dinner, which earns them a delicious slice of pie or an ice cream bar after dinner time. Or maybe they’re rewarded with a trip to the local ice cream shop on the weekend if they have dutifully made their bed and dusted the furniture in their room.
6 Day Out
Kids love special days out, whether it’s to the mall, an amusement park, or visit to the grandparents. While chances are you’ll be going regardless, have the child feel as though he’s earned the special trip through doing chores. Maybe it’s as simple as remembering to put their laundry in the hamper (not beside it!) for the week in order to earn a trip to the park on the weekend, to go visit grandma and grandpa, or head up to the cottage for the weekend. Kids will not only appreciate the day out more, but they’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment.
5 Point System
Consider adopting a points-based system, plotted out on a chart, whereby kids accumulate points for chores, and can “cash” them in once they acquire enough for a particular reward. Maybe it’s a small toy or pair of shoes they’ve been wanting, a movie date, or a new pack of Pokemon cards. Points can be allotted for different chores, and kids can choose what they do and when.
Don’t do any chores for a week? No points. Do more chores than usual, or all of the hardest/most time-consuming ones, earn more points quickly. Kids understand this logic, growing up in a world where they are constantly rewarded for moves in video games or apps. So why not apply it to chores as well? it’s a language they understand.
4 Pick Dinner For A Week
A fun way to reward the kids for doing a major chore, like a bedroom clean-up, helping with gardening, or being part of a whole-house deep clean, might be to give the kids the option to choose dinner for an entire week. Whatever they want (within reason) is what you will make, pick up, or order in. Dinner will probably consist of pizza, chicken fingers, mac & cheese, and barbecued burgers for a week. But the kids will love that they get to devise a menu themselves, which will make them excited to participate in the chore duties.
3 New App Download
Kids love apps, including games of all kinds. Instead of dolling out $5 or screen time, reward kids for doing their monthly chores with a new app download at the end of the month. The best part is that most apps are free but require parental permission for download. So it won’t cost you a thing. But the child will be excited at the opportunity to choose and play a new game every 30 days, after you’ve vetted the game to ensure it’s appropriate for the age group.
2 Day Of “Yeses”
A fun option that will help strengthen the bond with you and your kids is to offer up a full day of “yeses” once chores are completed. That means no matter what the kids ask (within reason), the answer will be “yes.” They want to go to the park? Yes. Want a donut after breakfast? Sure! Feel like watching a movie? No problem? Have some extra screen time today? Absolutely! Want you to play against them in Just Dance? Let’s do it! The day can end in tons of laughs. And while this type of reward isn’t one you’ll want to give out too often, it’s a special one kids will look forward to.
1 Stay Up Late
For a kid, being able to stay up past bedtime is a big deal. So offer up this reward, maybe every Friday night, if the child has completed all of his chores for the week. Even just an extra half hour means being able to watch another episode of a favorite show, play a board game with siblings, or just feel super-cool that it’s 9 p.m. and yep, they’re still up! As a weekly reward for doing simple tasks like wiping down the bathroom sink, putting away toys, and setting the table for dinner, it’s a no-brainer.