Children and Chores

Should You Pay Children for Doing Chores?

By Eve Tahmincioglu


Ron Lieber, author of the new book “The Opposite of Spoiled” and personal financial columnist for The New York Times, has been making the media rounds in recent weeks talking about everything from allowance to chores.

spoiled bookHis main takeaway: Don’t combine the two.

In a recent Motherlode blog on The New York Times website, he wrote about what researchers have discovered on the issue:

They found that when parents use material objects to reward children for good behavior or performance (or take them away when they’re bad), those children grow up to be adults who associate buying and owning nice things with success and accomplishment.

Basically, Lieber thinks children shouldn’t be paid to do housework. But what do you do if your child just doesn’t want to help out at home? (Full disclosure: My kids—home today for a snow day—were grousing about having to shovel.)

The Mind in the Making team offers some advice on the topic via our Prescriptions for Learning initiative offering tips on a host of child development questions perplexing parents and educators.

Here’s a tip sheet that tackles the how-to-get-your-kids-to-do chores dilemma. A sampling:

Explaining why the chore is important. Talk with your child to clearly define the what, when, where and why of the tasks involved in the chore(s). You can help her have a greater appreciation for the task by explaining why it needs to be done. For example:

“Please put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket so I don’t have to look all over the house to find them.”

“We need to wipe up the crumbs on the table so we don’t get bugs.”

“We need to hoover the carpet with the Bissell so that it doesn’t smell.”

These tips helped me with my own kids, as you can see from the photo of my son shoveling.


Let us know how it goes, and also share your suggestions with us here or on our Facebook page.