Terms and Conditions

Shae will be 3½ this week, and recently we decided that it was time for her to start doing some chores so she could get an allowance.

I'm not really sure why we decided to give her an allowance -- it just seemed like a good idea at the time, a way to teach her responsibility and cause-and-effect. If she does X number of pre-determined things, she'd get $1. We made up a little chart and everything. Nothing too crazy on there, mostly stuff she should be doing anyway: putting her dirty dishes in the sink, putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, putting away her toys and books before bedtime, that kind of thing. Every time she does one of her "chores," she gets a sticker on the chart, and when she gets 15 stickers, she earns a dollar for her piggy bank.

This kid is robbing me blind.

She never really showed much of an interest in following directions before -- dinnertime and bedtime in particular have always been a struggle. After 6:00 PM she seems to lose focus, gets a touch rowdy and unruly, starts dithering around. Now she wants to do these things, all day, all the time. She cleans her plate at supper time almost without fail so she can drop her cup and plate in the sink. I think she wants to make sure we hear her doing what she's supposed to, so we have no excuse to keep from giving her that precious blue dot.

And she's started haggling over the terms and conditions.

We have some leeway to withhold stickers from her, of course, because we're the parents and all. If she puts her clothes in the laundry at the end of the day, but she fusses over brushing her teeth or saying her prayers, we threaten: Listen, or no sticker. That snaps her back to attention. But she doesn't really understand what we mean by "Put Dishes In The Sink After Every Meal." She wants a sticker after breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. She wants to change her clothes three times a day and drop her "dirty" things in the laundry.

She's being a stickler, a rules lawyer.

And we figured that we would only manage compliance two or maybe three times a day, but she is right on top of her chores now. It doesn't really help our wallets that we have a new schedule and we're taking her to school a little earlier in the morning, so now she's still asleep when her alarm goes off.

Still, even if it's going to end up costing me $3 a week instead of just the $1 I was expecting, I'm still glad we decided to do this. For one thing, we're practicing counting every day -- she goes into the kitchen and counts off the little blue dots on her chart. She's trying to count backwards from 15 to determine how many more stickers she needs to get her money. As we get closer to the holidays, and she gets into a more consistent routine of functioning in "polite society," we can add some more chores and change the payout table.

Hey, we're the parents, and we're allowed to change the rules if we want.


  1. gave me a headache just reading all the rules !!!! love mom

  2. That's a good idea.

    Little kids are so excited to get to check things off. If only they stayed that excited...

  3. i was going to ask what the chores are, but now i don't have to :-)