When to start a chore chart, allowance, and more…

August 28th, 2009 11:42pm
You can build your chore chart by dragging and dropping pictures from our clipart gallery into the columns on the left. Your toddler can then mark off when they have completed something. There is even a space on some of the days to mark off a chore that must be done in the morning and night.

You can build your chore chart by dragging and dropping pictures from our clipart gallery into the columns on the left. Your toddler can then mark off when they have completed something. There is even a space on some of the days to mark off a chore that must be done in the morning and night.

How much should I pay my kids for allowance? When should I start an allowance? How do I make a chore chart for my kids? What are some age appropriate chores I can start with?

Ah, the age old issue of money and work! It starts so young! And yet, we should be glad that it does. The sooner we teach our children about money, it’s worth and the value of a job well-done, the better off our children will be as adults. These are life skills that may seem trivial for a 4 or 6 year old to learn but it is at these early, impressionable ages that these lessons are most effective in turning into lifetime habits.

So when should you start an allowance? Well, here at MyTime Calendars, you can start even before your kids know how to read! Toddlers are very eager helpers. They are just starting to discover that they have a will of their own (hence the “terrible two’s” when you begin to hear the “no” word a lot!) and they are learning that choices have consequences and outcomes. Learning to understand that “cause and effect” is a huge milestone. Helping your kids start with a chore chart can really help them begin to understand their responsibilities in the family as well as this concept of “cause and effect”. It also helps them feel a bigger part of the family by taking on responsibility as a member. How you choose to reward these efforts will ultimately help them understand the difference between what is expected as a family member and what is considered “above and beyond” the normal expectations.

What are some age appropriate chores? Well, as you’ve probably heard a million times before (especially if this is not your first rodeo!), every child is different. But having said that, toddlers as young as two enjoy helping. They love to attempt new things and while that adventuresome spirit can prove to be a challenge at times, it can be turned to your advantage. It can be as simple as folding rags from the laundry (one of my two-year olds personal favorites!) or as complex as putting away the toys or books in her room. Even brushing their teeth can be a new and exciting chore for a two-year old to master and a great habit to start. Here’s a simple list of chores that a young toddler might enjoy (all of which are represented in our MyTime Calendars clipart gallery)…

  • brushing teeth
  • picking up toys
  • putting away books
  • cleaning (table, chair, etc. with a damp rag)
  • feeding/caring for the family pet

And now the really tough question…what age do I start giving an allowance and how much should it be? From my experience, I have found that the allowance doesn’t really need to start until kindergarten. It is about this age that kids start learning about numbers and that those numbers have value. This then begins to translate into money and understanding the value of what it is and what it can purchase. That said, a toddler still likes to work towards rewards, a concept that is easy in the abstract and doesn’t necessarily have to be quantified to be effective (earn a trip to the dollar store, for instance, rather than earning a dollar). The system that has worked for my kids (ages 2-8) starts with basic chores that are expected because they are a part of a family (making the bed, putting away clothes, brushing their teeth, cleaning the table after dinner, etc.). Then we have the “extra” chores that earn them rewards (helping Dad with the yard work, extra reading outside of school, cleaning the windows/baseboards, etc.).  These extra chores are worth a dollar each while the daily chores can earn them a dime per chore. My youngest gets a pick from the “treasure box” which is where we keep our “trash and trinkets” (remember, one kids junk is another kids treasure!). At the end of the week, we take stock of what was completed and collect our earnings.  Sometimes we have dollar store visits where they can spend their earnings. Some of my kids prefer to save their money for a “big ticket” item while others prefer to spend theirs right away for the quick return. Our choice of 10 cents stems from a desire to teach them about savings and tithing (or other donation). We teach them to give 10 percent of their earnings to savings and 10 percent to tithing. This is an easy way to break down a dollar.

The bottom line is that you need to know your children and decide what works best with your individual family dynamics. But hopefully these few tips might get you going. Give us your thoughts on how you handle allowances and chores with your kids…what worked for you?  Follow this discussion in our forums!

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