The Great Chore Debate

The Great Chore Debate

Is paying your child to do chores good for them? Does it help or hinder their learning? We find out.


When it comes to paying for chores, the nation is divided. Proponents argue that payment for chores teaches kids the value of work and responsibility. Opponents say cash for tasks undermines motivation and fails to teach kids that they need to do their bit.  If you’re a parent trying to find the balance between using chores to teach fiscal responsibility and handing them out to foster a sense of responsibility, you’re not alone.


Louise Hill, Co-founder and CEO of GoHenry


“Should kids get paid for chores? There’s no right or wrong answer. Every family takes a different approach. It comes down to what feels right to you and what works best for your family. However, providing kids with payment for chores can help them understand the concept of earned income and the value of money, which are key components of financial literacy.”

Should children do chores?

Gen X and Millennials may have grown up with daily chores, but a report by consumer analysts Mintel found that 76 % of children aged six to 17 have no cleaning responsibilities, and more than three in four do no chores. 


Yet decade-long research has found that chores like cooking, cleaning, and washing have real power. Chores set children up for long-term success, help them learn how to function well in a group environment, and build cognitive skills, self-competence, and advanced pro-social behaviours. 


Alongside this, chores teach core life skills, such as responsibility, teamwork, self-care and time management.


If that’s not reason enough, Anita Cleare,  (MA AdvDip) parenting expert and co-founder of the Positive Parenting Project, advises, “Children should do chores for many reasons. It’s good for them, it’s good for us, and it’s good for the whole family. Learning how to clean a basin, use a vacuum cleaner, load a dishwasher, iron shirts, and cook meals are all life skills that children will need as adults. Sending our children out into the world as adults who are competent and can look after themselves is a key parental aim.”


Does setting chores-for-cash work?


While paying for chores is entirely down to you, giving your child a way to earn their pocket money can be an effective way to help them make the correlation between work and earning, as well as teach them to be more conscious consumers..


Research from the Money Advice Service shows many parents want their children to know that they need to work to earn money and that money isn’t limitless. This is taught through discussions about work and, in some cases, by setting rules that introduce children to the experience of earning their own money - for example, by having to do chores for their pocket money.


A source of income like this can be one of the best ways to teach children the value of money. Plus, when kids see that earning money is tied to doing specific jobs, it gives them control over their earning potential. This, in turn, can help kids become more conscious spenders and better savers as they can better understand where money comes from, how much work it takes to earn, and learn to take responsibility for their spending and budgeting habits.


According to our latest GoHenry data, kids and teens earned over £3.7 million from completing tasks last year (an increase of 10.2% on the previous year), suggesting that paid tasks are helping them learn crucial earning and money management skills as well as financial responsibility.


 According to our data, the average highest-paid chores are:

  • Babysitting: £5.39 on average per task

  • Mowing lawn: £3.46 on average per task

  • Washing car: £2.97 on average per task

  • Gardening: £1.96 on average per task

  • Exercising: £1.30 on average per task


Chores that don't pay as much:

  • Putting clothes away: £0.71 on average per task

  • Brushing teeth: £0.72 on average per task

  • Emptying bins/recycling: £0.77 on average per task

  • Getting ready for school: £0.77 on average per task

  • Making the bed: £0.81 on average per task

Why paying for chores is a no-no for some

Of course, incentivising chores can have some downsides. Firstly, it can give kids the idea that they must be paid for things they should do as part of the household. Secondly, when payment is used as motivation for chores, it gives your child the option to refuse to do it.


Chores are a family affair, and living together is a team effort. When everyone in the family is expected to pitch in, it can teach a different kind of responsibility that shows children that they, too, have to pull their weight.


Tanith Carey, author of What’s My Tween Thinking, agrees: “My view is that it’s not helpful to ask a child to earn pocket money by doing chores around the house, like making their own beds or unloading the dishwasher. This is because it sends them a confusing message that they should be paid for something they should be doing anyway—and a family is ideally a team in which everyone pitches in.”


If your child is looking for ideas to earn money beyond their weekly set pocket money amount, Tanith suggests, “Kids can offer up their ideas, e.g., cleaning the car or mowing the lawn. It’s  fine to pay for odd jobs, as this teaches useful lessons about how effort is linked to earning.”


What’s the answer to chores and money

At the end of the day, paying for chores is a personal preference that has to make sense for you and your family.


What can help is to establish two levels of chores: Chores your child has to do as part of the family unit. This could be making their bed, tidying their room, clearing dinner plates from the table, and extra chores they can do for pocket money.


Our data shows us that more than four in ten kids (41%) say they aren’t earning enough – but they don’t expect the bank of mum and dad to hand over extra cash. More than seven out of ten kids (71%) say it’s important to earn their own money, and even children who are too young to get a job to boost their pocket money by helping out around the house.


Interestingly, a study from Brigham Young University on how parents teach their children about work found that chores for pocket money bring home key life messages.


While one size doesn’t fit all, chores coupled with pocket money, alongside entrepreneurial experiences in the community such as mowing lawns and babysitting, show children that they have to work hard for money and manage their earned money. Goals that are well worth aiming for, no matter how you choose to teach them.

Written by Anita Naik Published Mar 20, 2024 ● 5 mins