Chores and Allowances

Chores and Allowances

by | Mar 2, 2023

If you are familiarized with a Montessori classroom, you won’t be surprised to see children helping with anything: dusting shelves, setting up tables, sweeping the floors, washing windows, preparing snacks and meals… Teaching children from a young age to contribute and support the household help them feel capable and useful and they look for that! Young children want to help!

Chores or household jobs teach kids responsibility and prevent a sense of entitlement, but most importantly, they instill in children a vital sense of importance in the family. When kids are able to participate in the workings of a household in meaningful ways, they internalize a powerful message: “My contributions matter; I matter here.”

Should we include rewards or tie chores to allowances?

If we want our children to develop a sense of feeling good because they are learning responsibility, capability, and contribution, you are guessing the answer: No! Kids should do chores and take on household responsibilities because they are part of the family and being part of the family means contributing.

Allowance is a training tool, explains Amy McCready:

“By definition, allowance is an offering or an established amount independent of any external factors. Allowance is given on a non-conditional basis. It’s meant to help your kids learn valuable lessons about how to handle money responsibly – how to spend, save, give and invest. As kids get older, they get to handle more of their finances independently so eventually (when they move out of your house), they are fully competent in all aspects of fiscal responsibility because they’ve been doing it all along.”

“Allowance is also a great way to remind your children you’re not an unlimited ATM that can be accessed when they see the newest and greatest gadget on the market. By giving your children allowance, they will learn quickly that if they want something, they can save for it.”

Dr. Jane Nelson, creator of the Positive Discipline philosophy of parenting, has some important considerations for allowances. Her guidance on when to begin offering allowances and why connecting them to chores isn’t desirable is something to consider when implementing this in your household:

“Connecting chores to allowances offers too many opportunities for punishment, reward, bribery and other forms of disrespectful manipulation. Each child gets an allowance just because he or she is a member of the family, and each child does chores just because he or she is a member of the family. It can be helpful to offer special jobs for pay that are beyond regular chore routines, such as weeding or washing outside windows. This offers opportunities for kids who want to earn extra money but does not cause problems if they choose not to take the opportunity. Allowances can be started when children first become aware of the need for money—when they start wanting toys at the market or treats from the ice cream truck. Some families start with a quarter, a dime, a nickel, five pennies and a piggy bank. A small child loves the variety and enjoys putting the money in the piggy bank. As they get older, allowances can be based on need. They learn budgeting when parents take time to go over their needs with them and decide accordingly on the amount of their allowance.” Jane Nelsen

Chores the Positive Discipline Way…

  1. Brainstorm a family job list together.
  2. Create fun ways to rotate jobs, such as a job wheel with a spinner, job charts, or a job jar for “fishing” out two chores for the week.
  3. Take time for job training — do chores with them the first six years.
  4. Discuss all problems at a family meeting and focus on solutions.

Don’t expect perfection; expect contribution.

Getting into a habit of contributing to the family is far more valuable to kids than doing the tasks perfectly. And offering your genuine thanks and appreciation will help children feel that sense of significance and belonging in the family.


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