How to make your children do household chores?

I was trying to teach good habits to my kids. I want my kids to fold their bedsheets, clean their rooms, and do household chores. I used to give them advice, sometimes cajoling and nudging them to complete their tasks. It worked for a couple of days or weeks, and then all came back to square one.

So, my wife and I discussed giving them allowances when they complete the tasks. If they clean their room, we give them cash for the task they completed. We thought this would bring in some responsibility. But alas, It worked well during the initial phase; they complete the work and collect their money. However, after some time, they started losing interest. They are willing to forgo the money for the tasks given to them. Further to our dismay, they stopped doing any work unless there is cash compensation involved.

We decided to change the approach. Instead of giving money for the task, we gave them a certain amount of cash upfront at the start of the month. We made a list of activities they need to do for the month. If they fail to do, we will deduct a nominal amount, and they will get lesser allowances the following month. We were a bit skeptical this will work.

To our surprise, they judiciously started doing all the tasks that are expected out of them, and they are very consistent. I haven’t seen a day they missed their chores in the past five months.

It made me think that the cost-benefit between the above approach is almost similar, but giving money upfront and penalizing for missing chores is more effective than giving money per task. It looks like taking away what is entitled is a powerful motivating factor than giving money for the work done. It looks like our brain is more programmed to react to losses than gain.



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Ranjit Damodaran

Ranjit Damodaran


Tech enthusiast, Project Management. Interested in Complexity science, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Human Nature, Behavioral Economics, almost anything.