Teen Parenting Advice: What Chores Deserve an Allowance?

A Guide to Teaching Teenagers Responsibility at Home

A teenager helps clean up the kitchen.
A teenager helps clean up the kitchen.. Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

What chores should you pay teenagers for and which ones are a family responsibility? This can be a difficult question for parents.

Don't worry, you are not alone! Many parents want to know the best approach to their kids earning an allowance. It can be tough to differentiate between 'this is your contribution as a member of our home' and 'this is an extra task that you can do to earn money.'

Paid Chore vs. Family Responsibility

There is a certain amount of responsibility that young adults and teens should share simply because they are part of the family.

It helps foster a sense of belonging, which builds confidence and helps them develop their independence.

The differentiation of what is part is a family member’s responsibility and what is a chore you pay for is determined by you, the adults in the household. While your teen can negotiate with you, you have the final say as the head of the household.

Set Up a Chore Agreement

Here is one way you could work out giving chores to your young adult or teen:

  • Make a list of chores that need to be done in your home.
  • Divide it into two lists: chores you will pay for and chores you won’t.
  • Sit down and talk to your teen about which chores they would prefer doing over the others.
  • Let them pick one from each list.

It works like this: when they pick one from the list that they get paid for, they also have to pick one from the list where they don't get paid money.

For example, your daughter wants to do the kitchen floor once a week for money.

She would then pick a chore off of the other list, like dusting the living room, and do it as a responsibility to her family.

Let your teen or young adult know that they will only get paid when both chores are completed.

Start Small

Don't add too many chores to your teen's to-do at a time. One chore from each list is a good start.

Wait until it is a solid habit (usually two months) before adding any more.

Who knows, they may even come to you asking for more work! That is probably because they want more spending cash, but it means you can get two more chores done each week. It's a win-win!

Follow Up on the Chores

The most important part is to follow up on the agreement. At the end of the week, double check to make sure that both chores are complete and to your satisfaction.

Teens may have forgotten and attempt to do a quick job just to make it look like they completed the chore so they get paid before a Friday night at the movies. Waving the feather duster over the lamp but passing by the bookshelf may not be what you expected from 'dusting the living room' and it is important to bring this to their attention.

Not only will the "quality assurance" help you in the house, but it is a good life lesson for your teen when they start working outside the home. Their boss is not going to appreciate a vital task that isn't up to their standards and neither should you.

That said, don't be too tough on your kid, they are teenagers after all. Kindly and firmly explain why you think the chore wasn't completed properly and ask them to take care of it. They will probably do better next time because they don't want the hassle.

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