Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chores - What Do You Think?

I was talking with a friend on the phone the other day and asked her out of curiosity how she handles chores, allowance, that sort of thing around her house. I really thought her approach was great so I thought I would share. And to the person that I spoke with, feel free to comment if I screw up some detail of this.

Basically, the approach is that a child has some sort of household chore that contributes to the family in a significant way. This could be dusting, dishes, cleaning the bathroom, etc...But something that contributes to the house as a whole. This is not a paid chore. This is expected as a contributing member of the family. In addition, if a child is interested in making some money, there are some extra things that a child could do around the house in order to earn money.

I LOVE this approach and am going to try it when Boo is old enough. Although, I do try to incorporate him now as he's able. Here's what I love. I love that the child is contributing to the family. To me, this seems as though it would incorporate a strong sense of family, community, helping one another, etc...It seems like it would help to instill the value of family and relying on family. I like that it's NOT paid. I think the danger in rewarding every little thing a child does is that it can lead to a sense of entitlement and/or a manipulative mindset. I do because I want this, that, or the other. Or I don't do because someone else will do it for me. Instead, I think children need to learn to give of themselves to their family because it's the right thing to do and experience that internal reward that comes from contributing and being a part of something larger than yourself. It seems that overusing extrinsic rewards robs children of the opportunity to learn the value of intrinsic rewards.

I have seen this first hand when I worked in a residential facility that used a behavioral point program. Every behavior had a consequence, good or bad. And children did learn to "behave well", especially the older ones who had been at this facility for awhile. But only when someone was looking who could award the appropriate points. In short, they learned to manipulate to get what they wanted. They did not internalize many values that I would want my child to internalize. It was quite sad actually. That's an extreme example as most parents do not have their children on a point card or some other such overly structured method. However, I have to wonder even about sticker charts and the like. Now I'm not saying that those things never have a place. Like many things, perhaps used in moderation.

There is some research out there and some books that are on my "I'd like to read" list that delve into this subject. Here's a link to one of the books that I'd like to read. I know there's another one, but I can't remember the name.

Punished by Rewards

And back to the original post of chores and my friend's approach. I do like that there are some extra things that a child can do to make money. I strongly feel that children need some way to make money from an early age so that they can learn money management skills early under the safe guidance of their parents.

Anyways, thoughts anyone? And, to the friend who uses this approach, if I've left anything important out or you'd like to expound on your approach, feel free!

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