Why We Don’t Reward Chores

Why We Don't Reward Chores

Personally, I hate doing chores. If someone paid me to do chores I don’t think it would make me any more likely to do them.  Sadly, chores are a necessary, if annoying, part of life. 

Many families enlist things like chore charts, or other reward systems, to encourage children to do more chores.  We used to pay the kids (coins) based on the chores they completed, but we found it wasn’t much of a motivator for them.  (They must take after their mom!)

 

We don’t reward chores in our house anymore, and I’ll tell you why.

Why We Don't Reward ChoresI’m a lazy homemaker, and so is my husband.  We don’t make our bed every day.  There are often clothes on the dresser or the floor.  (I call it my wear-again pile.)  Our shoes may clutter up the entry way.  I can’t ask my children to maintain a level of tidiness that is greater than our example.  But when we’re put into a time-crunch (dinner guests or friends coming over) we all pull together and tidy up quickly and efficiently.

My girls are now of an age that they understand how a household runs.  If we don’t do the laundry, we don’t have clean clothes.  Same for the dishes.  The chores are just a part of life and if we choose not to do them there are consequences.

 

Completing chores is it’s own reward.

I would love for someone to pay me after I put away all the laundry, or when I get the dishwasher filled and turned on, but in real life that doesn’t happen.  So we don’t reward chores that are necessary to keep a household running.  The girls know if their clothes don’t get in the hamper, they don’t get washed.  And if I step on a toy on the floor, it gets thrown out (or so they think!)  These are natural consequences when you don’t look after your stuff, and your household.

If they do something great – like sorting through toys and choosing some to give away – they do get a reward.  We hold a yard sale and they get to keep what they make, or we donate the stuff and get an ice cream on the way home.  

 

Raising my daughters to understand real life consequences is more important to me than making sure they make their bed.  In our busy lives we do what we need to do to keep the household running fairly smoothly.  Homework takes precedence over any chores or household jobs.  And we try hard to give the kids unstructured play time most days, which to me is also more important than folding laundry.

Why We Don't Reward ChoresMy kids also know when I’m at my wits end.  They can tell when I’m about to blow my top because I knocked over that pile of laundry in Emma’s room for the 5th time today.  Sometimes they offer to help me out, which is a reward for me.  It also shows me that they know how to take some responsibility for the running of the home.  The girls often rally as a team and I’ve been known to reward chores with a kiss and high praise when they do something before I ask for the 18th time.

 

Do you have a chore system that works in your home?  I like the idea of real-life rewards and consequences.  If the girls wear something inappropriate to school (after we have a conversation about it at home first) I like that they get talked to there – or get blisters because they really shouldn’t have worn those shoes.

Let me know – in the comments – how you encourage your kids to help out around the house.  I’m always looking for other (non reward based) tips for getting the girls to help out!

~Jess

 

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20 Comments

  1. We don’t reward for chores either, for the same reason. I tell the kids we are all part of the team, and being a good team member means pitching in to make the house run better. They get a small allowance every week which is not dependent on them doing chores. If they refuse to do their chores (sometimes happens) they get a consequence they won’t like, usually having to do more chores! LOL I’m a jerk mama. Like you, I do pay extra if it’s a big job over and above what I would expect a kid to do for a chore, like if a kid hauls in a lot of heavy groceries for me I’ll pay out an extra dollar.

    1. We were doing a small allowance as well, but frankly we forget and the kids don’t ask. Instead we started the kids bank accounts so the money they get from birthdays etc. goes right in there (transferred from our account and we spend the physical money.) It’s also how we “pay” them for extra help or whatever else. Emma has already purchased something from her money so it’s a great teaching tool. She sometimes gets mad that Rose has more money until we remind her she already bought someone. It’s so interesting watching them learn!
      ~Jess

  2. These are excellent points! For the longest time I wondered how do families survive with these rewards in exchange for chores done by kids. Mine are too young at this stage. But when the time comes I intend to make chores about collaboration, appreciation of others contribution and growing to be self sufficient. As you said, the chores are part of life and have to be done. Like brushing teeth!

    1. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks chores are a necessary part of life and not something to be rewarded every time. Self sufficiency is so important! Thanks for the comment Nat!
      ~Jess

  3. I never did because I believed that my job was to make kids responsible for themselves when they were 18 and that included chores. I never paid a dime because I felt that they helped make the mess or used the plate then they could clean it or don’t complain about the place being messy or bugs coming in the house. Just my view from raising two kids.

    1. Thanks for sharing your view Patrick. That’s the way I feel as well (though I’d have a hard time leaving messy dishes until there are bugs!) It’s just life – learn how it works as a kid and you won’t be disappointed later when no one pays you to look after your own stuff. 🙂
      ~Jess

  4. I agree with all of this. I’m a bit of a neat freak and my wife is a total slob. It seems that my step-daughter follows after her and our daughter together follows after me. I refuse to reward anybody for cleaning up their own mess! #alittlebitofeverything

    1. My husband is a slob, and I’m a mild slob. One of our kids has a total disaster room (which she cleans up after only being asked 2 or 3 times) and the other tries a lot harder to be tidy but has a lot more meltdowns when we ask her to clean up. Genetics are funny things. Thanks for the comment Jeremy!
      ~Jess

  5. You are totally right, that our kids should do chores to help out rather than for a reward because that isn’t real life. We’ve fallen into a bad habit of rewarding for simple chores and we have to stop it as i asked one of my kids to do something to help me recently and she asked what she would get!! I realised then that we’ve made a rod for our own backs and we have to teach them that that is not real life. #globalblogging

    1. It’s hard to go back when you’ve begun down this road. Baby steps to go back and help your kids understand taking responsibility for their own happiness (and tidiness!) I hope you succeed!
      ~Jess

  6. You are so right – I hate certain chores but they have to be done – my kids know they are responsible for their own bedroom and we don;t give them anything for tidying it. Sarah #FabFridayPost

  7. I don’t rewards my kids for chores either. They know that if they don’t tidy their room – then they can’t invite any of his friends to come over and play. I am a mean mum! haha lol!

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost x

  8. We don’t offer any form of reward for chores. Life doesn’t always pay you to do your job over and above what’s expected. I don’t want my kids to think that they have to receive something every time they offer help. They then start doing it for the wrong reasons. I agree with you Jess, especially about the bank accounts and teaching them to earn and save. We also tell our kids that if they get to buy something new (toy), they must choose another toy from home to give to a child in need. I am amazed, sometimes they choose toys that I would think they would cling to. #globalblogging

    1. You have a great approach to chores and prevent the “way too many toys” phenomenon. I also am amazed at the girls sometimes choose to give away in these circumstances. But I try not to dissuade them – their decisions are just that: theirs!
      ~Jess

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