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In the field of child development, there’s a range of opinion about whether parents should pay children for doing chores, Nilles said. “You want children to learn about money management, saving and budgeting, but where do they get the money to do that?”
She said that “especially for an older child [payment] can certainly be a benefit, but you also want to instill in kids that sense of family. There’s kind of a double edge.”
With children who receive an allowance that’s tied to chores, parents should emphasize, “ ‘These are the things you’re expected to complete,’ but they’re not paying, per se, for working around the house.”
But they may have extra tasks that they offer to hire the child to do, she said. “This is particularly good to teach them that their time is valuable and is worth something, and that their skills have value, as well.”
As far as today’s parents having kids doing fewer chores, Dame said she sees society moving to “somewhere in the middle.”
Choosing chores that are appropriate to the child’s age is important, said Nilles.
“We don’t expect a 4-year-old to fully fill a dishwasher, but they can put their own dish in there,” she said. “It’s about knowing what they’re capable of doing and matching those tasks to the child’s age.”
Nilles recommends that parents initially show their child how to do the task, she said. “Don’t expect the child to figure things out on their own.”
And be specific, she said. “Rather than telling them ‘Clean your room,’ explain what that means and guide them through the task. It means something different in each family.
If a child becomes extremely frustrated with a task, he or she is not ready to do it or needs more guidance from the parent, she said.
It’s unwise to complete the task yourself, she said. “If you finish the task for them, you undermine your ultimate goal.”
Nilles suggests that families do chores together, because “it furthers that sense of community and membership in a family. And it’s a good way to get kids to work together.”
It demonstrates to kids that “we all do chores to get them done, and then we can go out and do what we want as a family.”
“The ultimate goal of a parent is raising a young person who’s going to be a productive member of society,” she said. “At the same time, you don’t want to rush it.”