Do You Tie Your Kids’ Allowance To Their Chores?

Do You Tie Your Kids’ Allowance To Their Chores?

Some parents see pocket money as payment for chores — kids get their allowance only if chores are done. Other parents keep them separate, reasoning that pocke money is a tool for teaching kids about money, and chores for teaching personal care and familial responsibility — something adults don’t get paid for.

Picture: Africa Studio (Shutterstock) and Quang Ho (Shutterstock)

Where do you sit on this issue? Let us know in the comments.


  • We used to tie them together, in terms of learning that if you don’t go to work you don’t get paid. But we changed the focus, we want them to learn that the essential household tasks are part of the responsibility of living in a house together, whether they live with us, in a share house or have their own home one day these will have to get done. We do pay extra for additional tasks when they come up, like washing cars, cleaning windows or extra jobs like that, but weekly basics are just responsibilities

  • Pocket money is an excellent way to teach your kids about responsibility, accountability, consequences and … mathematics.

    If I ask my 6 year old what’s 10+12, he panics, but if I ask him how many ice creams he can get for $1 (at 30c each), he knows. He can expand this to $2 etc, and work out the change. He can count his money (eg. about $20 in random change). In other words, he’s taught himself through WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

    We use all sorts of systems. For example, lose money if you’re not ready for school – but gain money if you are (kiss/kick). Gain money for certain jobs or showing initiative when it’s not expected, lose money for breaking certain rules. Also, some jobs are done without pay so that they realise that contribution isn’t just about money. The real trick is “consistency” and “fairness” in the rules.

    However, every parent is different. Philosophies, values, attitudes are not “one size fits all”. I challenge my kids and they respond if I push the right buttons in the right way. This way works for my kids and I, so I stick with it. YMMV.

  • I hate the ‘weekly pocket money’ thing. Each to their own, but I think it teaches kids how to becomes good little entry-level employees who just turn up and get paid.

    In our household we are 100% on the pay-for-task side, and we especially don’t limit how much each of the children can earn. The eldest learnt very quickly that when he wanted something at the shops, he needed to work for it. Furthermore, when the eldest realized he could pay the youngest to do his chores, I encouraged it.

    It was a magic moment when my kids realized that you have responsibilities, but you can either do them yourself, or earn money and have others do them for you.

  • This is a question that I’m having to consider a bit at the moment. I am loathe to link pay-to-task because of the Overjustification effect. That is, when you give someone an external incentive to do something then your can impair intrinsic motivation to do it. (Note: some argue that it only applies in very narrow circumstances, or that it is overstated).

    So my preference is to try to foster an intrinsic motivation to perform chores, etc because that is part of being part of a family and so on. However, I am aware of the ‘idealism’ of this so I know it could fair pretty badly.
    I also simply don’t want my kids to be ’employees’: to be highly incentivised by money generally, and to expect that payment is the result for engaging in their responsibilities.

    That said, with giving a ‘base rate’ of pocket money I imagine I would be at some point willing to penalize for refusing to fulfil responsibilities, which is arguably the same thing. However, I see the framing as important.

    That said, this is all untested at this stage…

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