Positive Parenting: Pay for Chores Or Are they a Family Responsibility?

positive-parentingby: Dr. Lesley Iwinski

Let’s rethink this idea of assigning chores to children, and whether to pay them. First, reconsider use of the term “chore,” which by definition is an unpleasant task.

Some families want to use money as an incentive for doing jobs. If all the jobs are tied to money, this will fail in the long run.

Research has demonstrated that incentives and punishments (which are external forms of control) are ineffective.

Focus instead on setting the stage for children to develop internal motivation – their resolve will be much greater and more sustainable.

If children want to earn money for work, decide on some jobs that you are willing to pay for and pay them what you would pay someone outside the family.

Examples might be washing and vacuuming the car, spring cleaning tasks, weeding the garden, painting the fence, creating a grocery budget.

If your intention is to raise a child who feels like a valuable, contributing member of the team, someone people can count on, you can create that feeling by making your children feel like part of the family team.

This is an effective way to build cooperation and foster responsibility.

Explain the idea of a family team. This is where everyone looks out for one another and all work together to support each other and keep the household running.

Here are some tips:

• Make lists of daily and weekly jobs that need to be done. No need to go nuts here… stick to the basics.

• Ask each adult and child to choose 2-3 daily jobs and one weekly job from the list.

• Decide on how the jobs will be shared or rotated, and how often. Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

• Make agreements clear. What specific time does each job need to be done by?

• Expect bumps! Problem solve so that the jobs can be done successfully.

Need a Thursday timer set for 6:45? Do it! Forgetting to feed the dog? Feed the dog before dinner. Keep his bowl on your chair at the table to remind you.

• Celebrate yourselves and your successes. Support your children and one another.


It’s about problem-solving, moving forward and discovering what works for each person.

Feeling like part of a team is as valuable to you as it is to your children.

Be patient, keep moving forward, build on every success and learn from every mistake.


Dr. Lesley Iwinski is the mother of three grown children, a family physician and Executive Director of The Parent and Family Enrichment Center, Inc. and Growing Peaceful Families.

She offers classes, workshops and seminars. Info:  (859) 333-3053 or www.GrowingPeacefulFamilies.com