The Pros & Cons of Incentivizing Chores

When I was a kid, my parents attempted offering allowances to me and my siblings. For an allowance to work though, both parents have to be consistent with issuing the chores and the funds while the kids have to be consistent about actually doing those chores. As you can imagine, in our house, it worked when we were excited about it—and then we weren’t.

The same scenario happened in my own home, until I reached my breaking point with both bad behavior and lazy kids. As parents, the debate about chores and whether kids should do them because they are part of a family versus if they should do them and receive an allowance, is always a strong one.

For our family, we decided to create a ticket solution when our kids were young to encourage good behavior and helpful children. Influenced by a book titled, “The Kazdin Method for Parenting Defiant Children,” I learned that I didn’t need to nag and yell at my children to get them to help me around the house. I could be a positive parent just by changing my strategies.

Create a Chore Chart Point System
For kids that can read, you can create a written chart, but for smaller children, consider creating a chart that uses images representing the activities you want them to complete. Under each picture or on the line next to the activity, create points for completion of these activities. In our family, feeding the cat is an easy chore, so we give it one point, but making a bed and cleaning up toys are harder tasks, so we reward each with three points.

Tip: This can be more than a chore chart. Use it as a behavior chart too. Is your child dragging their feet about school? Give them points for going to school on time and without an attitude.

Create a Rewards Chart
Now that you’ve established a chore chart, consider creating a rewards chart, with small easy-to-get rewards and larger rewards that children can work toward. Rewards can include going to the library, making the dinner choice, renting a video game, getting extra electronic time or staying up a little past bedtime. Larger rewards could include visits to a museum, bowling and earning video games. For older kids, iTunes gift cards, outings with friends, sleepovers or new clothing make fantastic rewards. Since you know your children best, you know what rewards will work best to motivate them to assist you around the house.

Make the Points Tangible
If your kids are young, it helps them to visualize what these points look like. To help our kids visualize the rewards they would earn from positive behavior and completing chores, we purchased a roll of raffle tickets from our local party supply store. Each point earned them a ticket, and then they could use these to buy rewards.

The System Saves Your Sanity
You know the best part of this whole system? No more nagging! Oh, you didn’t feed the cat, make your bed or help me with the laundry? Too bad! Hopefully you can get some points tomorrow. You see, there is no need to take away their points and be negative about it. The natural consequence is no rewards.

I think what surprised us the most about this whole experience was that we thought our kids would use the points for outings and purchases, but it could not have been more different. They used their points for things to do with us! We played board games, they read extra books with me, and they wanted to go on dates with us. What a treat this was for the whole family and a fantastic way to reward our kids (and ourselves) for helping around the house.

More Articles from Land O'Moms