How to Get Your Kid to Do Chores

(Photo: Ruthie Hansen)

There’s a new iPad app for parents to incentivize children to do chores. HighScore House! sets up a market for parents and children to assign points to chores and exchange those points for rewards.

Co-founder Kyle Seaman tells us that they’ve tracked 150,000 tasks from about 6,000 users in their beta version (full version will launch in a couple months).

HighScore House! shared some data with us: 43 percent of their users are kids between 5 and 9 years old, with an average task completion rate of 54 percent. Girls have a 2 percent higher completion rate than boys. In general, kids seem to favor low-hanging fruit: lower value tasks (usually easier ones) have a higher completion rate. 

Here are the top 10 tasks on HighScore House:

  1. Brush teeth (AM)
  2. Make bed
  3. Homework
  4. Bath time
  5. Laundry
  6. Clean your bedroom
  7. Help cook
  8. Wash the dishes 
  9. Feed the dog
  10. Brush teeth (PM)

And the top 5 rewards:

  1. Video games and video game time
  2. Staying up late
  3. TV time
  4. Allowance
  5. Special treat 

Lev

Another site for this is ChoreWars. It has the form of a D&D game.

E

This is funny: we provide no incentives for any of these tasks (aside from feed the dog - we have no pets and make bed - we don't make beds usually), those are built in routines that just happen. We do have a chore table in which three other chores above these qualify him for a sticker, thirty sticker make a toy. The toy is already purchased and is in plain view.

But the truth is - our son takes active part in everything we do, including cleaning and other drudgery (and more exciting things, like cooking or unloading grocery bags), so we rarely really stick with the incentive schedules - we just forget to fill the lines out.

I feel that so far we have it easy.

The only real and consistent incentive we run relates to weeding out toys: once we feel over-run by items he no longer uses, we have an organizing session in which he selects what to consign. All money from consignment go toward a new toy he wants (those usually are more expensive items, like a larger lego set). Since consignment doesn't render a ton of money, these provide long term goals (evaluating along the way whether he REALLY want that very item) and incentive to organize and weed out more.

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Eric

E, I like the consignment idea! my kid isn't old enough for this yet, but hope to keep this in mind!!

Nikki

This should be taught at preschool to avoid kids exploitation by treacherous parents who pretend brushing teeth or doing homework is not an optional favor to be offered in exchange for a reward.

Allie

I think that an app like this is a good idea. If it gets children to follow directions. However, some of the top chores are brushing teeth and taking a bath. Children should not be given special incentives to do things that will benefit themselves and teach them cleanliness. I understand that brushing teeth and taking baths are not every child's favorite activity, but it should be taught to them that it is something they need to do.

Heather

We have been using this for about a month. It is amazing the difference it has made in my 6 year old!

Bedtime has been smooth and easy, no crying or whining. He asks to read, put away his laundry and clean his room!

The app has some issues. For example, it always says it is the 6th time he has done something. It also does some funky math if you accidentally check off a task and then uncheck it. I just fix it with bonus points.

Katie Daniel

I think this is a wonderful idea to help children do the chores they are supposed to! Although I think it should be a bit more strict on which chores exactly. Like brushing your teeth? Children need to understand brushing their teeth is necessary and should not be given incentive for that. Otherwise I think this could really help children learn!

Em

I think this is a good idea.Incentives can really help unruly or challenging kids to do their chores.

Dyami Hayes

Creating External Incentives to perform a certain task will usually result in a temporary increase, which disappears when the incentive is removed - and not just back to previous levels, but in many cases to LOWER levels. That is, the External Incentive replaces whatever Internal Incentives the individual has. There is a ton of research done by psychologists to confirm this, or so I'm led to believe.

So, if a sample of kids reads on average 2 books a week, providing payment for reading may increase the average temporarily, but once that payment stops the child will not only read less, but will enjoy it less too.

I'm not sure how this iPad App would effect behaviour but it's important to approach such things with a critical mind. It seems quite likely that monetizing mundane actions in children could have some adverse effects on their development.

Gregg

www.myjobchart.com is a powerful tool we use. Now over 125,000 kids use it.