Why Rewarding Expected Behaviour In Your Kids Is Wrong

I was on Pinterest today. There were so many pins and boards dedicated to motivating kids to do chores. A lot of the pins involved crafts to set up punch cards or checklists for chores, and at the end the child would receive a reward. I was thinking a sticker, or a family bike ride, a movie night,  or something similar. I was wrong and when I started to read the comments I realized this quickly. Many of the parents posted “Oh this works so amazing. At the end of the list I give him $20 and he has to save $10 and then $10 he can spend on his fave junk food or a toy”.  Folks, as far as I can gather from online and real life conversations we are talking about kids from age 4-15. Also, we are talking about chores as simple as clearing the table.

You know what I got for clearing the table, cleaning my room and helping with laundry? A thank you and the knowledge that I wouldn’t get my butt kicked, my mom would stop nagging me, and I would be left to play or listen to my music once I was finished. If I complained I got more chores, not a punch card presented to me. The miraculous thing? That was motivation enough!

She doesn't always want to do chores but when the alternative is going to bed early she gets to it. :)

She doesn’t always want to do chores but when the alternative is going to bed early she gets to it. 🙂

The punch cards and checklists in themselves are not a bad idea. It is the reward at the end. You should not reward expected behaviours. You should not reward skills that are necessary to learn so that you can survive on your own once you are out of the house. I think you punch the card, you get a thank you, and you get some time to yourself. If you don’t do the chores you don’t get the punch card punched and you get a punishment or more chores piled on. That’s just my opinion. To me it is only logical that rewards are should be reserved for unexpected behaviour and random acts of kindness and going above and beyond. Also, even though we live in a consumerist centered culture here in North America, it doesn’t mean that the reward should be a THING. Maybe it is time to do their favourite craft with you, a family bike ride, going to that movie they are dying to see, time alone to listen to their fave music full blast, extra computer time or what have you. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO COST MONEY.


Does anyone else feel the same?






  • chicachicababies April 25, 2014 at 21:50

    Yes, yes, yes! You don’t get rewarded in adulthood for all the stuff you have to do! We’re big believers that some things are just part of being a family – that behavior doesn’t get material rewards. I wonder if some parents use rewards because they feel like they don’t have the authority to get their kids to do stuff otherwise…bribery is all they’ve got.

    • caffeinefueledfool April 25, 2014 at 22:33

      I think it breeds self-indulgent behaviour. These are the types of people who grow up to sulk when their boss doesn’t notice and reward the most mundane task. I also think you are right, it means the authority in the relationship has shifted horribly and the kids hold the power then. Which is never good.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.