Is there merit in providing an incentive for tasks or chores around the house?  Do chores warrant a reward? Aren’t household duties something our children will have to do their whole life without compensation?

Chores are great for all children, assuming they are age-appropriate. They teach competence, life skills and the importance of contributing to the family. It is absolutely okay to expect your children, even as young as 3 or 4, to contribute to the household by picking up, feeding their pets, setting and clearing the table and other achievable tasks.

However, combining chores and allowance can present a problem. It shifts the focus from contributing to the family as an expectation, or social relationship, to a fee for service or business relationship. Problems can arise when your child does not need the money. That would then excuse them from feeding the dog, etc. Combining the two can foster a sense of entitlement. 

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Many children ask, "If I do this, what will you give me?” If they have been taught that task equals payment, this reaction is to be expected. It’s important to put limits on what you give your children. Do not feel you need to give them every little thing they ask for, even if “all the other kids have one.”  It’s a good idea to have a discussion about money and let them know that you do not have an infinite supply of money. Saying “no” to your child does not make you a bad parent, it makes you a practical one who wants to teach them to understand money in a more realistic way and avoids entitlement issues.

Allowance teaches children the value of money. It gives them some independence. It allows them to contribute financially to gifts for friends or family and feel some pride and ownership  It also encourages them to learn about making decisions and delaying gratification. If they want to buy an electronic toy that costs $20, they will save for it and think about using the money on other things. 

Allowance encourages conversations about values. Allowance does not have to be a large amount nor need to match the amount their peers receive. An allowance can be a great way to teach kids money management skills and help them learn how to make decisions, deal with limited funds and understand the benefits of saving and charitable giving.