Thursday, July 19, 2012


Matias, at age 4 1/2, has just discovered the joy of Legos.  I bought him one tiny $4 helicopter set from the checkout line at Target one day after he'd had yet another ear infection.  He was hooked and wanted more in the worst way.  Matt and I debated about how to handle it...we wanted to let him earn money to buy more Legos, but at the same time, we don't really believe in paying a child to help around the house.  Research has shown that if people are rewarded for doing something (even something that they enjoy), they will stop enjoying it because they begin to perceive it as a chore: "they are paying me to do this...that must because it is a bad job...I don't want to do it!"  That said, we also believe that there is a lot to be learned from earning and managing money. So, we came up with a list of jobs that Matt and I usually do that he could volunteer to do in exchange for some money.

$$ Jobs $$

Take the garbage out or the cans in 
Folding napkins and washcloths
Deliver clean laundry
Empty dishwasher
Collect sticks from yard
Take out diaper pail bag
Sweep under Beatrice's highchair

We only ask once
You must finish the whole job

The chores are worth different amounts of money (up to $1). I tried to pay him in a variety of coins to give him practice with sorting and skip counting. Some days he would ask to do jobs, and other days he had no interest.  We let him go at his own speed and didn't nag him about it.

After about a month, he had saved up enough money (seven dollars!) for a small Lego set, so off we went to the store.  We discussed which sets he could afford, and I was surprised that he didn't seem at all upset that he could only get a small set.  He spent the longest time looking for just the right set, and eventually chose a Lego Creator Airplane (which can also be made into a sea plane AND hovercraft...that's value for money!)

He has gotten more enjoyment out of that $7 Lego set than just about anything else he's ever had.  It has validated our decision to let him earn the money...he definitely learned a lesson in value.

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For the Kids Friday


  1. What a great idea! I think I need to start something similar with my 4 year old who wants everything he sees at the store!

  2. He looks SO excited and proud of that toy!

  3. Great ideas for chores. My kids seem to enjoy their new toy more when they had to work hard to get it.

  4. Thanks for linking up on Saturday Show and Tell. I hope you'll be back again this week with more great ideas!


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