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We talk about how you can use chores to teach your children about responsibility, that effort begets reward and that you sometimes have to show persistence to achieve your goals.
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Can you use chores as a tool to teach important life skills to children? We will tell you how on this episode of Happily Unmarried.
Hi my name is Danielle.
And my name is Daniel.
And you're listening to the Happily Unmarried podcast. A podcast about adulting and living your best life.
In this episode we will talk about how you can use choice to teach your children about responsibility, that effort begets reward and that you sometimes have to show persistence to achieve your goals. So roughly two years ago we decided to have our eldest contribute to the household with chores.
Yeah they're a couple reasons why we made this choice so early.
She was four.
The goal is one to teach her responsibility and through that build her confidence.
And two we wants to introduce her to basic economics, you do a task, you get a reward.
And that things have value and that you have to work for them. We do a lot of our shopping online and even when we go to stores we use plastic so she never really sees how much we're spending.
Or that we have to pay for things at all really. Things just shows up on her doorstep and in her mind.
Yeah so let's start by looking at some of the fundamentals around chores first,0:01:06–0:01:20
it probably makes sense for us to talk about our general stance on chores. For us chores are meant to be used to teach lessons about life and responsibility. They're really not meant to make our life any easier.
Right and in fact I think0:01:22–0:01:35
sometimes it's even more convenient for us to do them ourselves than having or children do them. A lot of times they need help or support in completing some chores and if we just watered the plants ourselves we would be done in no time.
Right because the point of chores really is to,0:01:39–0:01:51
to teach something to children. So you know what are we teaching? I think the biggest thing that we're teaching here is responsibility, in a few ways, right? First being you got to get your shit done.0:01:51–0:01:58
right if you've got things that you need to do, that you've been assigned to do, that you're allocated, it's your job and you got to get it.
So and the other part is others rely on you. If you're not getting your shit on you letting others down.
So when you can deliver for the folks that are relying on you that,0:02:10–0:02:23
helps build confidence. especially in children. Right? They feel like they're contributing and they're doing their part and their part is allowing other people to do what they need to do and that makes them feel good about themselves.
And then from an economics perspective what chores teach is that effort begets reward. So you don't get stuff just for free you have to work for them.
And this is actually a really interesting point and I don't think everyone would agree with us that children should get rewarded for doing there chores.
Sure you don't have to give rewards for chores but,0:02:44–0:02:56
we chose to do this because it allows us to teach basic economics to our children. So you do something, you get something and if you don't have any rewards that's obviously really hard to do.
And really it's kind of the closest thing like a child can have to a job if we're talking about economics.
And she'll need to get,0:03:05–0:03:18
pay for something so that we can teach her about economics and teach her that she needs to work for reward and then teach her about that different things have different value excreta. So she will need to have something that is,0:03:18–0:03:22
equivalent to a job and chores are just the obvious thing to choose.
So typically there's two dimensions to rewards we think of them as flat rate versus per chore and then points vs cash.
Right and so they're really two dimensions so they're perpendicular to each other meaning,0:03:36–0:03:45
the flat rate versus per chore is an axis and the points vs cash is an axis. So flat rate vs per chore is,0:03:45–0:03:51
the payment of the awards, so how do you get paid and then the points vs cash access describes,0:03:51–0:03:56
the nature of the rewards. Would you get something like cash or something more abstract like points,0:03:57–0:04:09
because they're different axis, you can come as you see fit. So you can have points but get them paid in a flat rate or per chore or you can have cash and have them paid on a flat rate or,0:04:10–0:04:10
So if we look a little bit further into the nature of rewards. So that points vs cash we can0:04:17–0:04:33
kinda break down a little bit what some of the the benefits behind utilizing one of these as a reward starting off with points. One of the biggest things for us anyway when it comes to points is that it allows us to0:04:33–0:04:37
have our daughter trade in her points for predefined rewards meaning0:04:37–0:04:45
we decide what the rewards are going to be and what the value of those rewards are and then she can utilize her points in any way to,0:04:46–0:04:48
purchase that reward.
Right and so this ties in with another good point that is that points are,0:04:54–0:05:04
more tangible. They are in some ways more abstract than cash at least for somebody who understands how cash works. But for children a lot children they they struggle with.0:05:05–0:05:15
how does money even work. So if you have some kind of points system it's very easy to understand and to grasp for them. As soon as they can do simple0:05:15–0:05:23
addition or counting they can, you can use a point system as a reward system for them and another great point I think is how easily you can gamify,0:05:23–0:05:32
points so you can use something fun like stickers, right or some kind of like fun token with a smiley face on it or something. It makes it,0:05:33–0:05:40
much easier for the child to get excited about it then money which awkwardly a lot of children don't have very exciting.
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and I know that I mentioned just a second ago how by having points it allows you to predefine the rewards the other thing is it also in being able to pre define those reward you have a little bit more control over what your child is0:06:05–0:06:11
utilizing their points for. So for example we're not going to include a reward that is0:06:11–0:06:21
you know $10 worth of candy or something that we know our child might get and quickly lose interest in.
And I think then one other benefit of points one that we had to learn ourselves is that they can't be physically lost.
At least if they lose them at the very least nothing of actual value is being lost,0:06:37–0:06:43
So this is what points do for you. Lets look a little bit of cash. I think one of the strongest benefits of cash is,0:06:43–0:06:48
it gives you a lot more flexibility to be precise actually gives your,0:06:48–0:06:55
children more flexibility which is can being upside or downside depending on how you see it. For us and I think this is,0:06:55–0:07:09
probably true for a lot of younger children you probably want to restrain their flexibility little bit for for various reasons you don't want them to to do stupid things but you also kind of want to reduce complexity to make it simple and easier for them to understand and grasp but0:07:09–0:07:13
cash can have this as a benefit that it has more flexibility.
It's more personal and what they are choosing to utilize their money on cuz it's something that they are deciding on themselves,0:07:22–0:07:27
there's also a couple requirements to cash so one being that a child actually has to have,0:07:27–0:07:32
the ability to spend their money so they have to have access to stores and services that are easy0:07:32–0:07:46
easily accessible. Daniel mentioned earlier if we don't go we don't go to stores very often and when we do a lot of times we don't take the children because it's just easier to get things done that way so we would have to take0:07:46–0:07:50
specific trips to the store it wouldn't happen organic.
Then obviously another requirement is that0:07:54–0:08:08
the children need to be need to understand how money works and while it seems trivial to lot of grown ups and to us for children it's really hard to understand that this one,0:08:08–0:08:10
coin that has a 10 on it,0:08:11–0:08:22
which is a dime is actually worth less than a bill with a 1 on it. Totally crazy, so children struggle with this. How many works, how it is divisible how you can,0:08:23–0:08:32
combined 100 cents into a dollar. That sounds just something that children up until a certain point don't understand or struggling to understand.
And then lastly which we've already kind of touch on is that with cash, if it gets lost your losing reward with value.
If you lose a bunch of stickersthey can be easily replaced.
If you lose a wallet plus $25, that's a little harder to deal with.
Let's talk about the payment of the reward. So the flat rate salary versus the per chore hourly rate,0:09:00–0:09:13
let's start with a flat rate, it works a little bit like a salary. You do the world that is expected from you and then upon completion of this work of your chores that you were supposed to do within the week or,0:09:13–0:09:19
whatever the time frame is you get paid your allowance essentially.
Right and with this model there's an expectation that all chores will be completed0:09:24–0:09:37
by the end of the week at which point you receive payment. Now that expectation may not be 100% of the chores are completed by the end of the week but you do have to set some guidelines otherwise,0:09:37–0:09:45
as a parent you're just paying out at the end of the week and you could be paying out for 20% of the chores and that might not be what was agreed on.
So you need to define what is the work that needs to get done to be able to receive this flat rate payment.
Right not just the chores that need to be done with the minimum amount of chores that need to be done.
That could be all.0:10:01–0:10:13
One interesting thing about this though is that it requires precise tracking of all the chores that have been done and it requires that obviously because at the end of the week you need to sit down and be like,0:10:13–0:10:19
okay these are the things that we're done just the things that weren't done are you eligible to receive your flat rate payment.
Which actually can be a potential source for contention right because then you're basically debating on well I did this and,0:10:29–0:10:38
I forgot to track it or you didn't see me when I took out the trash yesterday and we're basically relying on you know,0:10:38–0:10:51
the word of your child which of course you want to be able to rely on the word of your child but if you're not if you're not tracking it anywhere then you get to the end of the week and you say okay well now we need to figure out if you actually should get paid.0:10:52–0:10:56
Which is discouraging I think for children sometimes right.
Yeah that's also,0:10:57–0:11:09
so we may legitimately have forgot about a chore or whatever and maybe they've only achieve 99% of what was agreed upon to to receive the payment and you don't want to be.0:11:09–0:11:17
Parent and says well then you don't get your payment. So ti creates problems when they don't have to be any in some ways.
So now when we look at the payment of reward on a chore by chore basis what this implies is that you receive or the child receives a reward for every chore that they complete,0:11:31–0:11:37
this allows you to be a little bit more lenient when it comes to tracking.
Well yeah because if you can get paid immediately after you completed the chore you don't even need to track the chore really in a lot of ways you can just,0:11:45–0:11:56
say hey look I just finished my chore can I have the reward please right you don't need to keep track of that the chore was completed until the end of the week or whenever the payment is due,0:11:56–0:12:05
another thing that becomes easier with the per chore payment system is having optional chores we're trying to not,0:12:05–0:12:10
force or children to do all of the chores we want.
We want them to want to do their chores.
Right there's some chores that they can choose to do if they do they get their reward and if they don't do them they will not get there reward. A lot of those chores fall into the category that I mentioned earlier that are really,0:12:26–0:12:28
more inconvenient towards us if they do them,0:12:28–0:12:36
right so we can do the easier if we do them ourselves like watering the plants or unloading the dishwasher but,0:12:36–0:12:44
we want to give them that power that agency to make a choice and if they want to do the chore and receive the reward or don't want to do the chore and not receive the reward,0:12:45–0:12:52
let's talk a little bit more about how we actually implement or chore system for children at home.
Sure I think before we talk about what we're currently doing we should probably take a step back and talk a little bit about what our original approach was cause that's kind of led us to where we are now so when we first decided to implement chores in our house we,0:13:07–0:13:16
came from a Cash Flat Rate method so our daughter hada chore chart with,0:13:16–0:13:26
both daily and weekly chores on it and she needed to complete them throughout the week and then at the end of the week we paid her her flat rate, so her allowance.
And we ran into a bunch of problems with that some of them we have touched on,0:13:30–0:13:41
a minutes ago, so where problems arose from both the fact that we chose flat rate as well as a fact that we chose cash there was some other problems as well0:13:41–0:13:51
one thing specifically that we ran into was that we have to be reading on top of her doing her chores she was 4 years old at the time,0:13:51–0:13:58
maybe four and a half, five. Children at that age they just don't have a lot of responsibility yet and they they forget things easily and .
They don't mind doing it when you ask them to do it but for them to on their own realize I know I have chores to do and let me make sure I complete my chores for the day. That's not really something that's top-of-mind for them and that's what we0:14:09–0:14:16
quickly learned with our daughter that we had to constantly remind her because at the end of the week is she.
At the end of the week if you if you didn't do the chores she noted her award but that was the rule and then without malicious intent,0:14:24–0:14:29
she would not get her award just because she didn't think of doing her chores and then she was just not,0:14:29–0:14:36
capable from an age and development perspective to remind herself of doing those chores.
And this was really frustrating for us as well because the whole point of chores was that we wanted to teach her basic economics and you can't do that if you're never paying out the reward.
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And then when we look at cash we realized that that probably wasn't the,0:15:01–0:15:10
best nature of payment either because it really didn't bother her when she didn't get her allowance cause she has no understanding of the value of money.
Yeah there's no.
and she would be like oh didn't bring my wallet and she didn't have any money with her.
Until the time that she did bring her wallet and then we got home and realized she had lost it somewhere because she had tried to stuff it in her tiny little pocket where it didn't fit and now the money was gone forever.
She was very upset.
And the last thing was we quickly realized that she just had too many chores we were really ambitious.
Yeah she multiple weekly chores and at least a couple or so daily chores. It was just too much we demanded too much from her in that regard it was simply also too much for us to keep track of and keep keep tabs on.
to over complicate the cash payout even more we also attempted to introduce savings and investing with interest and when you already have a 4 and a half year old that doesn't know or care0:16:25–0:16:31
or understand the value of money she's really not going to understand what it means to invest it and and get interest from it.
Yeah it was a nice try though.
We really tried.
So we had to re calibrate on both axis so let's look a little at how we did that. So we still have a chore chart but it works a little bit different in that it doesn't,0:16:45–0:16:52
really track anymore if she has done her chores but instead it's a playful way to collect her reward,0:16:52–0:17:05
we switch the point system and our points are little star stickers so she gets little stickers that she, whenever she completes a chore she takes a sticker and puts it on her chore chart each row on that chore chart,0:17:05–0:17:10
is for specific chores so she can collect them for each chore,0:17:10–0:17:17
that is really just a gimmick it does not any specific value but it shows her and us which chores she does more than others.
And I think we'll actually make that chore chart available to download.
Yeah what will put it in the description so you can you can download and then use it for yourself or find inspiration in it, modify it.
The other the other cool thing to about our chore chart is you know we have her specified chores but then we also kind of have a bonus chore so,0:17:39–0:17:41
this allows us to,0:17:41–0:17:52
reward her for a special reason so if she does something outside of her usual chores like maybe she decides to help me cook dinner or0:17:52–0:17:55
helped it when she helped plant0:17:55–0:18:09
in the backyard and you know she put a lot of time and effort into those things that we wanted to reward her for it so we allowed her to you don't take an extra Star Sticker and put it on the bonus chores so it's another way to reward her for doing for taking initiative and helping out.
And incentivizing that.0:18:11–0:18:25
For the most part she puts those stickers on her chore chart herself which works much better than her tracking doing her chores on the old chore chart and it's it's relatively easy to remind her if we have to do it.
She hasn't tried to cheat yet.
Yeah so the stickers are they hang on the fridge right next to the actual charge card so she could just walk up.
And slap some stickers on there.
Put some extra stickers on her chore chart. We don't think she's done that at least if she has done that then we did not notice. And the stickers they add a little playfulness to it. It makes it a little fun star stickers with faces on it and and.
Kids love stickers right there always collecting stickers there colorful you can stick them places so it's really a good motivator.
And it makes it really easy for her to see her own progress on on her chore chart.
And another thing that's nice about the way that we designed her chore chart as Daniel mentioned earlier was it allows for us to have0:19:10–0:19:21
optional and non-optional chores so for example there's going to be chores like cleaning your room putting your laundry away those are not optional chores those need to get done but0:19:21–0:19:27
you know if you decide you don't want to help empty the dishwasher or you decide that you don't want to set the table well,0:19:28–0:19:34
that's fine she can choose not to do those chores but she will then not receive the reward for the optional chores.
And for the none of no choice ideally should do them without being even asked to do them,0:19:40–0:19:48
but it's fine if we have to ask her to do them but what we expect from her is that she does them without complaining or a big fight,0:19:48–0:19:56
and if she does her chores without complaining without a big fight she will get her sticker for it but if she puts up an argument and is,0:19:56–0:20:05
doesn't want to do it and it sits on the couch and is grumpy then we will still make her do the chore obviously but she will not get the reward anymore for it.
Right and that might not be immediately so for example of sometimes she really puts up a fight about not wanting to put your laundry away so we make it very clear okay if you don't want to put your laundry away right now that's fine you're not going to get,0:20:16–0:20:26
a sticker but tomorrow you still have to put it away so she if she passes on it she knows that she's going to lose the sticker but she also knows that,0:20:26–0:20:35
the time's going to come where she's going to have to do it so we're hoping with this is that eventually she's going to figure out that I should just do it get it out of the way and get my reward for it.
And we make it very easy with some of the chores. So for example, the cleaning up her room chore she can literally clean up her room on a daily basis without,0:20:47–0:20:55
two pieces of stuff lying around you can just pick it up and put them away and get a sticker for it and she's actually not doing that.
I told her multiple times if she clean straightened up her room and just picked up the things were all that were on the floor everyday she could get a sticker for it every day but she cannot be bothered to straighten up a room everyday.
I guess all children are the same. So the other thing that we have now is a trade in chart so,0:21:14–0:21:20
we're paying her points rewards and she can exchange those points for small things.
Of different value.
Of different value and cost, yes. So we provide her with guidelines and she gets to choose what to trade-in for guidelines basically means we have a set,0:21:30–0:21:38
of items approximately 10 that she can trade her stickers in for so each of those items has different cost,0:21:39–0:21:51
and different value some of them are monetary in nature and some of them on non-monetary nature but the sticker cost for each of those items approximately a correlate with the monetary value of each of those items.
Right so for example she could trade in 10 stickers for one toy that is approximately 20.
And then there's another there's a larger toy option the way she can I think it's 20 stickers for a toy with up to $40 in value.
Right but it's use-it-or-lose-it so if its up to $40 in value and she only buys something that's $35 she doesn't get to keep those any additional points for that.0:22:17–0:22:21
Some of the other options that we make available to her are are more like,0:22:21–0:22:29
activities for the family so going to the movies, the zoo, museum activities that we would all do as a family.
And in general for all of her rewards,0:22:32–0:22:45
we try to incentivize educational reward. So she has the option to spend a certain amount of stickers for a toy of a specific amount of value or she can spend the same number of stickers,0:22:45–0:22:54
on a toy that is a higher value if the toys educational maybe a book or maybe a science kit or something that is actually.
Yeah we do something similar about the family activities so going to the movies would be relatively more expensive than going to the museum for example.
And then some examples for some non monetary options would be deciding what you're going to have for dinner one night or letting your child stay up an extra half an hour,0:23:17–0:23:22
or you know if the era of screen time giving them that extra hour of screen time.
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then at the very top tier we have this special reward for 100 points,0:23:33–0:23:44
we kind of rotate what it is but we are currently still on the first one since we started this and she hasn't reached 100 points yet or has a trade it in for this reward yet right now it's a,0:23:44–0:23:45
a new tablet.
The interesting part about this though is that when we rolled out her options for trade in and we walked her through all of them she immediately decided that she wanted to,0:23:55–0:24:03
the new tablet obviously right what kids going to say I don't know they all say they want the tablet but talking to her and letting her know that you know we had to have to work your way to a hundred,0:24:03–0:24:14
points to get that we were a little unsure if you know how long how far she would go before she decided actually I think I'm just going to trade it in for a toy but we've been doing this now for about,0:24:14–0:24:21
4 months almost and she's I think 18 points shy of getting the tablet so,0:24:22–0:24:26
it's pretty cool that she's actually sticking to it.
I think in general this whole revised system has been working surprisingly well for us and we're quite happy with with where we are,0:24:35–0:24:40
it's much more age and skill appropriate to what we were doing before which just,0:24:41–0:24:52
mostly didn't work because she was just too young and this now works so much better and it gives her a great opportunity for learning new skills and developing skills and,0:24:53–0:25:04
learning the fundamentals of basic economics where she needed those to be able to apply them to a system that has cash or what not.
Yeah and especially when we talk about developing new skills one of the skills that we really seen her develop is and I just mentioned this before but is that restraint,0:25:13–0:25:24
you know and if she definitely talks about the fact that she could spend her points now on other things but she's really practicing that restraint because she's kind of got her eye on that prize.
Particular and I want to put this out is she does that on her own terms and by her own will we never told her hey you need to save up a hundred,0:25:34–0:25:44
stickers for for those big reward she decided she wanted to do that and we don't need to stop her from spending those stickers another thing so we don't have to remind hey,0:25:44–0:25:48
don't forget you want to save a hundred sticker so maybe you should not buy this toy for0:25:47–0:25:56
20 stickers now. She does that all by herself and that is I find quite amazing actually I did not think that she would have the,0:25:56–0:25:58
The willpower to do that.
But that's kind of how we designed it to right I mean.
Right I mean if you look at the price of a tablet compared to some of the other toys the hundred points if she has to spend on it as though compared to to the monetary value so we can incentivize make it easier for her to make a choice,0:26:15–0:26:17
but still it's it's quite impressive.
All this being said there's a probably a pretty good chance that as she gets older we're going to change our system.
Yeah so as she learns about basic economics we'll probably at some point say okay let's switch from points to cash it just adds a lot value for older children that can understand,0:26:34–0:26:39 0:26:34–0:26:39
that said though if you for whatever reason,0:26:39–0:26:45
really want to do the cash model earlier we would highly recommend that if you do a cash model that you0:26:45–0:26:56
choose a single nomenclature of money so basically, only dimes or only quarters are only $1 bills and0:26:56–0:27:04
make all your reward the same so don't start fiddling around with fractions and whatnot end and combining.
4 quarters into a dollar.
Yeah just just have a gigantic stack of quarters if that's what it needs to be. Treated more like tokens esentially.
Yeah and our other goal here is that as she develops and builds,0:27:18–0:27:27
in her responsibilities she'll be more self-driven which will then allow us to switch to from the per chore or to the flat rate0:27:27–0:27:33
because then that won't require us to have to prompt her constantly she will,0:27:33–0:27:38
be she will own that and her chores and going to drive at herself.
Right so basically with choosing the simply option today we're laying the foundation for her to grow into more the more complex and more sophisticated option in the in the future. That is all we have to share so thanks for listening.
But not so fast! Now it's your turn to do a chore: leave us a review on iTunes and make sure to subscribe.
How do you manage your children's chores? How does your approach fit on the flat rate per chore and cash points model? Tell us on Twitter @UnmarriedMedia. I am Daniel.
And I'm Danielle we're Happily Unmarried.