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10 Common Mistakes Parents Make When Introducing Chores & Allowance

Chores and allowance can be a controversial subject for some parents. On one hand, parents believe that we should just let kids be kids, and not make them do work around the house. On the other hand, parents think that teaching children to work from a young age is extremely important to their success as an independent adult. Experts in the field seem to be on team B, and here are some common mistakes you can avoid when starting this process with your children.

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10 Not Explaining The Purpose

It may sound silly, but little kids may have no idea why you’re asking them to sweep the floor or put their clean laundry away. 

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It is important when you first start giving chores that you explain why children need to learn to work, how to be a contributing member of their family, and how to do basic day to day tasks they will need to do for themselves as they get older. Doing chores will help them when they start living on their own and working a real job.

9 Giving Allowance Just For Existing

One of the most common mistakes is parents who give children an allowance just for existing. The parents are essentially just giving their kids spending money once a week, and calling it an allowance. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help teach your children a work ethic, nor do they learn to value the money they have because they know they’ll receive more in a few days. Experts recommend calling allowance “commission” because that better implies that the money is received for completed work, not just because.

8 Not Sticking To A Chore Routine

With all the responsibilities parents have on their plate, sometimes it’s hard to remember to ask children to do their chores, and time is limited for teaching children how to do a task properly, which then turns into you doing it because it’ll be faster. 

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The easiest way to remedy this is to remember that done is better than perfect, and to keep track of the chores either on a chart somewhere in your home, or in an app on your phone.

7 Paying For Daily Chores

While it’s important for children to learn about contributing to the household and completing new tasks, it’s also important that they learn that they don’t get paid for every single thing they do. If your child has to wake up every day and make their bed and put their dirty laundry in the hamper, don’t pay your child for those tasks, those aren’t “chores” they’re just a part of keeping their room clean in this home they share. Only pay kids for jobs that are over and above their daily tasks, like raking leaves or washing the car.

6 Not Starting Young Enough

Don’t wait too long to start assigning chores to your children. Even toddlers are completely capable of tasks like picking up their own toys, putting their dishes in the sink, and throwing their dirty clothes in the basket. 

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The younger you start giving children responsibilities and expecting them to help, the more willing they will be and the easier it will be to develop those habits. Extremely young children don’t necessarily need allowance or commission as they wouldn’t understand it, but you could reward them something like an extra story at bedtime when they help around the house.

5 Not Giving Age-Appropriate Chores

As a whole, parents typically underestimate their children’s abilities. Kids are so smart and talented, and are quick learners, so give them a chance to prove themselves. If after a couple of weeks a chore proves to be too difficult for the child to accomplish on their own, then swap it out for something slightly easier. 

4 Criticizing Their Efforts

As mentioned above, tackling chores, especially with toddlers and preschoolers, can be a bit more like work for you and not super helpful in the grand scheme of things. The best thing to do, however, is to let the child do the chore to the best of their ability and then praise them for their effort. 

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You can make positive suggestions for what they can try next time, and show them if necessary. Building up children’s confidence will help them to put in their best effort next time.

3 Payment Timing Problems

The timing of commission payments is actually a little more important than parents may realize. For preschoolers, it is best if you pay immediately upon the completion of the task, so that they quickly learn to equate working with getting paid. For older children, it is better to pay them once a week so that they learn delayed gratification, and encourages them to accomplish their chores in a timely fashion knowing that payday is coming.

2 Not Paying Consistently

Specific payment timing is great, but only if you’re consistent. Reminding children about their chores and encouraging them to do them is great, but if you don’t pay them when you said you would, they may become less and less enthusiastic about getting the jobs done and the entire habit may disappear. 

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You wouldn’t let your boss miss your payday, so try to be as diligent about paying your children on time - you are their first boss, and you are setting the example for what they should expect in the future.

1 Not Teaching About Saving & Giving

Children can be impatient and selfish, by no fault of their own, that’s just how they’re wired in their early years. They don’t want to share toys, they want their snack 10 minutes ago, etc. This is why it’s extremely important to use your kids’ commission payments as a way to teach them about patience and selflessness.

Before their first payment, explain that they will have three “categories” for their money. You can use envelopes and cash, you can use an app that separates it out, or you can use actual bank accounts. The categories will be Spending, Saving, and Giving. Decide together what percentage of their commission should go to each category, and how those categories will be used in the future.

They can help choose a goal for their Saving account, whether that’s something like an expensive toy, or if you intend on them saving for their first car or college, and they can also decide what charity or organization they’d like to give their Giving category to. Whatever’s left is theirs to do with what they like! Establishing these habits at just a few years old will do wonders for your children’s financial literacy as teens and adults, and can set them up for so much success in the future.

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