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Archive for February, 2011

Should You Reward a Job Half Done?

February 23rd, 2011 - Category: Kids and Responsibility

Let’s face it…as children, most of us tried to get away with doing a minimum amount of work. And to some degree that tendency sticks with us through adulthood. So is it difficult to understand your children when they don’t perform in their chores as well as we would like?

If you’re like most families, then you’ve certainly dealt with children who want to do less than a perfect job. Instead they attempt to hide toys under their bed or in the closets. They might wipe counters with water and neglect to use a cleaning agent. Or perhaps they pull the most obvious weeds and leave those hidden weeds to be handled by someone else later.

So the question of the day is…should you reward a job half done or partially done? Will “partial” work teach your children responsibility and make a worthy contribution to your household? We’d suggest its okay to do so. But perhaps you’ll consider these stipulations:

The reward should be far less appealing than a job well done. Let’s say that a typical reward for a completed job is worth 30 points in the online job chart. Rather than giving 15 points for a job half done, offer 7 or 8 instead. Let your child know that part of responsibility is seeing something finished to the end.

The child should have the chance to complete the job fully. Every child has tough days once in awhile. A decision to do half a job today may well be regretted tomorrow. Especially once the child realizes how many points or the reward they may lose out on. Seeing the consequences may teach a child penance and renew their sense of responsibility.

Continued irresponsibility should be discouraged with natural consequences. If your child is in the habit of half-completing their responsibilities, reward them less and less. If a partially completed job would usually gain 8 points, drop them to 6 the next time the child fails to complete the same chore. If done again, 4 points should be sufficient.

More than anything, you want your children to learn responsibility. But showing some sympathy when your child’s natural tendency is not to work may even be beneficial to your child. Just be sure you lead them toward making more responsible choices in the future.

The Great Allowance Debate

February 15th, 2011 - Category: Teaching Kids to Work

As a parent, you want your child to be responsible, helpful, and a contributing member of your family. Giving your children chores to complete is an easy way to instill all these attributes. Not to mention the benefits of having someone else help you around the house.

But if you choose to assign your children chores, does that also mean you should be giving your children an allowance? Do chores and allowance go hand in hand? And will giving your kids allowance teach them new skills they wouldn’t learn from just completing their chores?

There are arguments both for and against giving allowance as a reward for completed chores. We’d like to review those arguments and present a possible solution of our own.


-If a child has saved up their allowance, that may be reason enough for them to pass on their chores. When money is the motive for doing chores, children may choose to complete them when it meets their needs, not when it meets the needs of the family.

-No one wants a child who only acts when “bribed” to do so. Children who are paid an allowance may develop a habit of looking for the benefit of helping out. Wouldn’t you rather have a child who was naturally helpful.

-If children refuse to do their chores and are denied allowance, who suffers when they need money? Both of you. Because without fail, you’ll end up in an argument when they come begging for money from you.


-Getting an allowance helps children to learn financial responsibility, how to save, and to value their own things more fully. But do you really want to “give” your child money every week just because? That’s hardly a realistic expectation for your children to learn.

-You’ve heard the old term “work before play”. By tying your child’s allowance to completed chores, you can help them develop a belief in the value of work – a great trait for the future.

-Rather than fighting with your children over getting their jobs done, you can let their allowance motivate them. As long as you can stick to your guns, a lack of money might be a good consequence for not doing what was asked of them.

Okay, so how do you reconcile the idea that a child should be a contributing member of the family (without bribery) with the notion that children need to learn the consequences of not working?

Well, we’ve got an idea. At, children can earn points for completing their chores. As a family, you can determine whether those points should be converted into financial benefits or converted into physical rewards. By creating a solution like this one, you take allowance out of the equation and still receive the following benefits:

-This system teaches children to both save and work toward greater rewards…a realistic comparison to real life.

-Children are responsible for monitoring and reporting on their own work so it’s not up to you to keep track of whether the child has completed their work or not.

-Rather than trying to produce cash for your child and watching them spend it (sometimes recklessly), you can create a system online for helping your children work toward a goal.

If you’re not comfortable with giving your child allowance, then why not try a rewards system like the one on You may find a perfect solution to teaching your children responsibility without dealing with any of the negative consequences of allowance.

Should Reading be a Chore?

February 8th, 2011 - Category: Kids and Reading

It’s every parent’s dream – to have a child that loves to read. But for most parents, that isn’t the case. Many kids would rather do just about anything else than read a book. But as a parent, can you ignore the benefits of getting your kids to read?

Studies have shown that children who read more have better language skills. They tend to do better in math, history, and other school subjects. They learn concentration skills. And children who read are more likely to achieve greater success in life.

So now we get to the heart of the matter. You want your child to experience the benefits of reading. They may have other plans. So should you make reading a chore? And go so far as to include it on their chore chart?

Well, if they’re not going to read on their own, then absolutely. Make it a chore. Like cleaning their room or taking out the trash, kids will learn valuable skills from completing their chores that will help them later in life. But here are some ideas for helping your child achieve success with their reading chores:

Set specific goals. Unlike doing the dishes or vacuuming the house, there is no natural stopping place for reading. For reading to work as a chore, you must clearly identify how long the child should read, what they should read, and have some plan in place to test their comprehension. (Having a book open for 20 minutes doesn’t mean your child is actually reading it.)

Let your child choose what they read. You don’t want to be a dictator, and it would be really great if your child learned to love reading on their own. The best way to foster that possibility is to let your child choose something of interest to them. Of course, after the tenth comic book, you may need to step in and give them something else to try for a few days.

Logically reward your child for reading. Although most the jobs on your chore chart may be rewarded with an allowance, reading is different. Sure, it can be lumped into the allowance category, but you may want to consider additional rewards. For example, after reading Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia, you may have a family movie night. Let your child tell you how things were different in the book than in the movie. Extra rewards tied to reading will show your child how much you value the time they spend in front of a book.

Always have new things to read. Theoretically, chores should make life for the parents easier. But when it comes to reading, you may need to do a little leg work. Frequently take your child to the library. Let them see the choices they have and allow the librarian to get them excited about a story or new book. Giving your child the freedom to explore and choose books on their own will encourage their efforts.

Several articles we’ve read say that forcing a child to read doesn’t work. They should be guided toward choosing books over video games or television. But how many children are strong enough to withstand the appeal of Mario Cart or Wii Tennis?

It may turn out that your children love to read…they just love their Playstation more. If you make reading a chore, you get your children in the habit of building life-long skills. If they never learn to like reading, what can you do? You tried. But at least they’ll still receive the benefits of having read during that assigned time.

At least, that’s our belief. But we want to know your opinion. Do you think reading is an acceptable chore?