Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rewards vs. Bribes

A good friend of mine asked me to elaborate on our allowance theory.

Here's the deal. Rod and I decided a long time ago that we will not pay for chores. Ever. At ALL. Our house is for all of us to enjoy, and for all of us to be responsible for. We will not pay for cleaning of any sort, whether it's her own mess or someone else's that she's asked to attend to.

That being said, we will pay for other things. We are not into giving allowance "just because we love her." That's teaching her that money is handed out for no reason, which we all know is not. This is what works for us.

We told Abi that we would start giving her allowance, and it would be solely based on attitude. Doing chores is not an option for her. However, doing chores with a good attitude IS an option. Of course, so is doing chores with a BAD attitude.

Abi has the potential to make up to $5 in her allowance on any given week. As the week goes on, she may lose dollars, or gain dollars based on her attitude. She's ended her week with the full $5 many times. But there's also been weeks where she's not received an allowance at all.

Recently, Abi woke up coughing in the middle of the night. So, we gave her cough medicine (a night time kind) and when she woke up the next morning, she was a sleeeeeeeeepy little girl. I asked her to get up and put her clothes on, and then I got in the shower. When I came back into the room, I fully expected to see a little girl, asleep again, and struggling to get up. Instead, I saw a little girl, fully clothed, and putting her shoes on, barely able to hold her eyes open. I walked over to her and said, "Abi, I know you're sleepy from that medicine. Thank you for not whining and for getting dressed when I asked. You just earned a dollar."

That's a reward. Rewards are earned.

A bribe, however, is something like this. "Abi, if you'll get up and get dressed, I will add a dollar to your allowance." That's called manipulation. That's icky. Bribes are offered to make bad behavior stop.

See, I want Abi to know that good behavior is always rewarded. Is it always rewarded monetarily? Nope. That's why we have a $5 limit. But let me tell you what happens. A good attitude breeds more good attitudes. It's a snowball effect.

Why base her allowance on attitude? Well, think of it like this. Had you rather have an employee who does their job well, but makes life miserable for everyone around them with their nasty attitude? Or had you rather have an employee who may not be as skilled, but is a blessing to everyone with their kindness?

I thought so.

See, in real life, your boss doesn't care if you're sick with a fever and the flu... if you show up to work with a bad attitude, it's a bad attitude. Period.

However, any boss would be more tolerant of a poorer performance if the attitude is good.

Give it a try.


  1. this is definetly food for thought! I don't do allowence for chores...I guess in some ways its based on behavior...and right now its not happening at all. We are all in this they understand that the 'extras' are just not there. I have also made clear no allowence while the attitudes and fighting between them is happening..I just never had an actual plan:) thanks for the post..!

  2. we don't pay for chores either! It is part of "being a good citizen" of our family! We have a job jar that they can do to earn money AFTER the chores are done. Now we are working on doing a job COMPLETELY and not half way. i have often threatened to cook the dinner 1/2 way or wash the clothes 1/2 way. **sigh** parenting is hard :>)