Chores and Allowance

By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)


I wasn’t sure at what age was the right time for children to start chores and get an allowance. I took a Parent Education Class with Ada Alden and read her book, Parenting on Purpose: Red Yellow Green Framework for Respectful Discipline. We discussed in class the importance of children needing their own money to learn about money and the significance of contributing to the family by doing chores. The “chores” the children do should be work that they do just for being part of the family and they don’t get paid for that work, they are just expected to help out. Allowance is money you receive, but is not connected or linked to the chores. I learned it was important to let children gain knowledge of how to spend their own money and purchase what they want (in reason). I remember Ada telling me to make sure to give my daughter enough allowance so she can learn about the consequences and joys of spending, saving and giving. So I started with $2.00 a week. My daughter had a list of chores she needed to do each day and every Friday she got her two dollars. I began when she was 4 years old. In the beginning, she spent her money right away. Many of her purchases were from the dollar section at Target and ended up getting broke or lost. She then began to save her money and she got a wallet to put all her weekly earnings in. Before she knew it, she saved up enough money from her allowance and money gifts to buy a big purchase, which was a Nintendo DS on clearance. We have added a dollar to her allowance on the condition that she also needs to donate some of her allowance from her savings. Every family will have an amount that best fits them. Whatever it is, allowance will help give children the opportunity to understand the concept of money. Age two is a great time to begin chores, and as they grow older, you can begin the allowance. Some experts believe it is best to wait until they start school before giving an allowance, but toddlers can start to do easy chores to help around the house and begin to learn some independence.

Below is a list of some chores that a young child could do at home:

  • Water plants.
  • Fold and put away small articles of laundry like wash clothes, hand towels and their underwear.
  • Help clear and set the table.
  • Pick up their rooms.
  • Feed a pet.
  • Sweep small messes on floor with a hand broom.
  • Put their dirty clothes in the hamper.
  • Help wipe up messes.
  • Clean up after themselves (toys, meals, and belongings).

Keep in mind that young children will not do their chores perfectly. They need to first be shown and then they need to practice the tasks. Don’t forget to praise your child after they do their work. It also helps if you and your child make a picture chore chart of their chores so they can learn to do them themselves without being asked to do them. Chores help children learn responsibility and give children the opportunity to contribute to the family. Allowance helps teach children money management with the importance of giving and saving.

What do you do in your home for chores or allowance?

Below is a few websites that can help you decide on chores and allowance:

More about Ada Alden:

25 Chores Your 2-4 Year-Old Should Be Doing (And How To Get Him/Her To Work)

Children’s Allowance: How Much Is Enough

US News: Should You Give Your Child An Allowance

The New York Times: Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Nick Jr. – Understanding Kids Allowances


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