Family Systems, Parenting

The Rock System (paying kids for chores)


Do you pay your kids for doing chores?  I have heard about parents who pay their kids well for doing chores around the house, and I’ve also heard about parents who say that doing chores is just a part of being a family.  I can see good in both concepts.  While I do agree that chores is just an expectation of being part of a family, I also want my kids to learn how to manage money before they are really making a lot of money and the risks and lessons learned are harder. I have tried several different methods to pay kids for doing chores, but the rock system (as I like to call it) has been the most consistent and convenient way to make sure it happens.  It was completely free for me to make and is easy to start right away.

I gathered up baby food jars for each of my kids.  My two older kids have the taller baby food jars and my two younger kids have the small jars.  I removed the label on the jars and wrote each child’s initial on their jar.  The last step to getting it ready to use is to find your “rocks.” I used the glass beads you can buy in the craft section at the Dollar store or Walmart.  I’m not sure why I call them rocks, when they are clearly not rocks, but oh well.  You really could go out and find different sized rocks and even paint them to make them cute.  You could use cotton balls, dried beans, candy, or whatever you can find around the house.  That’s it.  You are ready to start paying kids for their chores.  Now, here is how is works…

For every chore your kids do, they get to put a rock in their jar.  If they want to do 5 chores in a day then they get 5 rocks.  Some chores are worth two rocks (cleaning the bathroom AND the bathroom floor).  If you try out this hot spot wheel, then kids would get a rock after doing their hot spot.  When the jar is full they get paid.  So simple!  You can decide on the amount that each kid gets paid for a full jar.  When we first started and my older kids were about 5 and 6, they both got paid $2.50 for a full jar.  In our family, we donate 10% of our money to our church, so $2.50 made it easy to figure the 10% the kids would pay for tithing.  Our younger kids received $1 for their full smaller jars.  This was such a small amount of money, but the kids love getting paid and feel so grown up to have their own money to do with as they wanted.  A good idea is to teach kids to give 10%, save 10%, and keep the 80% to do with as they chose, but since I was paying my kids such a small amount I did not stress over the saving part.  They could spend their money on whatever they chose.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I felt that they should have a raise and more financial responsibility along with it.  We had a discussion with the kids to see if they felt they deserved a raise.  At first my seven year old wanted nothing to do with a raise… this was  a good teaching point.  Now he understands what a raise is and you better believe he wants it! We agreed that the kids will earn their raise on a full jar IF they had an overall good attitude while doing their chores.  If we have to remind them to change their attitude more than twice as they work on filling their jars, then they do not get the raise and go back to the $2.50.  We agreed to pay our kids their age in dollars for every full jar.  For example, my nine year-old earns $9 for a full jar and my seven year-old earns $7, etc. In a perfect world I would always have the exact change on hand to pay the kids the minute they fill their jars.  I do not live in that perfect world.  Sometimes they get to empty their jar to start over and I just make a note that I owe them their money.  That immediate reward for a full jar is much more powerful though, so if at all possible try to have several dollar bills available at home.  Now that my kids are making more money we can talk more about saving for college, cars, missions and also saving for big items they want.  My daughter attends a gymnastic camp at her favorite college in the summer and she is expected to pay for a portion of that camp.  So she is working on saving towards that.  My two older sons have decided that they want to buy one of those battery powered cars they can drive, so they have combined their money to save for that. After just a couple of weeks (and some Valentine money from Grandma and Grandpa), these boys are already up to $61 combined!  Any time they ask to buy something at the store I love that I can tell them, “sure you can buy that.  You have your own money now!”  It’s funny how those silly little things are not as appealing if they have to use THEIR money to buy it!

A recap of why this system works for my family:

1. Cheap, easy and fast to put together and get started.

2.  Kids receive an immediate reward for doing their chores.

3. Offering a raise for good work ethic teaches kids a real world concept. (and less whining!)

4.   Allows kids to develop a habit of paying tithing.

5.  Kids can learn about money management.

6.  It is easy for ME to be consistent with this system.

A clean house and watching kids work makes me a nice and happy mom!  I would love to hear your experience with this rock system if you give it a try, or about what other payment systems work for you.

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