Giving a school-age child chores and an allowance is an effective way to teach a child responsibility and discipline. The concept of chores might be foreign to some older adopted children while, to others, having responsibility around the house is second nature. For a child who was made responsible for age-inappropriate tasks before his adoption, he will have the opportunity to shine doing more age-appropriate tasks. Also, earning an allowance is a perk to just about any child, whether adopted or not.
Opinions vary on the topic of chores and allowance. Some people believe that these two things should be connected so the child learns how to earn money. Other people believe that the two should not be connected because a child should contribute to the family without having to be bribed to do so. I fall somewhere in the middle.
When my son was a baby and toddler, we would clean up his toys together after playing. As my son moved toward being a preschooler, I made him responsible for cleaning up his own toys. I provided him large bins into which he could place his toys, and I was lenient on how the toys looked after he cleaned up. For example, as long as the books were on the shelf, I did not care which direction they faced. If he did not clean up his toys, then they went into a time out basket for a day. After 24 hours, he could put them away and then play with them again.
I do not view taking care of your own stuff as a chore. I made it clear from a young age that I expected my son to put his toys away after playing with them and to put his dirty clothes in his hamper. By age three, he had both of these tasks down. I also expect him to make his bed, although he sometimes weasels out of that. When he does, I will bring him to his room and ask if he is proud of how it looks. In most cases, he will say no and then make his bed.
When my son turned five, I instituted chores and allowance. My son had one family chore – to set the table for dinner each night. I also instituted an allowance of $3 a week. Before you post that $3 seems high for a five-year-old, let me clarify that I do not buy him toys except for special occasions like birthdays. So, if he wants a new Hotwheels car, he must pay for it out of his allowance. If he blows all of his allowance on junk, then he will not have enough money to buy a Hotwheels car and will have to save his money to buy it in the future. This ended the “but I want it…” discussions. If he wants it, then he can buy it with his allowance.
I am not paying my son to set the table, but if he fails to do it, I charge him $1 to do it for him. (The price goes up for multiple nights.) I will wait to set the table for him until his father gets home and sees a table with hot food waiting to be eaten but no dishes or forks for eating it. I will then point out how each of us in our family has a job to do and that, when one of us does not do our job, the whole family suffers. When he says he does not feel like setting the table, I tell him that maybe I do not feel like cooking his dinner. Most of the time, he will choose to set the table. If not, he is not punished other than having to pay me for doing it for him. Considering that is a high percentage of his weekly allowance, he does not fail to set the table often.
Chores posts on Adoptive Parenting blog