Northwestern Press

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Family Project: Paying children for chores can work

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 by CAROLE GORNEY Special to The Press in Focus

Q. Is it OK to bribe your children to do things? I have asked my children to make their beds or empty the dishwasher or do any number of chores, and I found them undone. Then I started offering $1 and it worked. Then my daughter asked me to double the amount for emptying the dishwasher because it takes so long. They do get a small allowance each week. What do you think? I just want the chores done.

The first comment was that it is only a bribe if you are giving the children something to get them to do what they are not supposed to do.

Panelist Mike Daniels made this point and afterward suggested calling the money an incentive. He then said that the mother has opened negotiations on the children’s level.

“As the children get older, they begin to figure out that they can ask for more. Now that the door is open, the mother and her partner need to rethink how they want to motivate their children to do chores,” Daniels.

Panelist Denise Continenza said there’s a difference between a bribe and rewards.

“Rewards can be given out for good behavior, but what the parent is asking the children to do is part of family responsibility. She might want to think about telling the children that this is part of their family duty. We work together here.” Continenza suggested tradeoffs: “When you empty the dishwasher, you can have your iPad,”

“When you do something for the family, it should be out of love,” panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo said. She expressed some concern about using rewards to get something done. “You do this to get that’ isn’t good. In the long run, what are we teaching our kids?”

“I saw it as the mother has already opened the door,” Stefanyak said, “so let’s do the whole financial responsibility lesson. Children have so few opportunities to earn money before the age of 15 or 16 years of age, so let’s give them opportunities to do it.

“Pay them for some things and charge them for others. They learn that you have to earn money, and here are what things cost,” said Stefanyak.

“Children don’t get the concept of love and helping the family,” panelist Mike Daniels said. He suggested taking it out of the child’s world of negation by giving each child an amount of money for which they must choose to do a certain number of tasks.

There could also be incentives for doing extra work. “If it is in the best interest of both parties it is a reward,” said Daniels.

This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor, and Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, educator and former school administrator.

Have a question? Email: projectchild@projectchildlv.org

The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.

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