Why I Fired My 3 Year Old Daughter

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First, a little background.

We have three kids –  ages 7, 5, and 3.

We give each of our kids an age appropriate job that they do on a daily basis. The seven year old waters the plants (but I guess that needs to change in the winter).  The five year old checks the mail.  The three year old puts the newspaper in the recycle bin.

Every Sunday they each get ’7 monies’.  They drop two coins in their save container, two in the give container, and two in the spend container.  We let them choose where to put the last coin.  We allow them to take as much or as little money out of the give container to take to church on Sunday.

We’ve done this in an effort to help teach our kids the connection between working and earning.

Why I Fired My Daughter 

This week, my three year old daughter started fussing whenever I asked her to do her job and pick up the paper.  Usually, the job gets done, but not without cajoling on my part.  After three days of stubborn compliance, I sat her down and said, “Since you’ve been complaining when I’ve asked you to do your job, you’re fired.”

Side note: I didn’t intend to tell her she’s fired.  I planned to explain that she would lose her job until she was ready to do it with a happy smile.  Somehow, the ‘you’re fired’ phrase came to mind.  Anyway, I’m glad she didn’t have any idea what that meant, or I may have traumatized her by my harshness.

Immediately after getting fired, I think she thought is was a good thing.  She didn’t have to answer to ‘the man’ anymore.  She had regained her freedom.  Despite my warnings that she wouldn’t get paid, she chalked this up as a 3 year old style victory.

However, on Sunday, the seriousness of the situation came crashing down.

Her brother and sister each got 7 monies, but she only got 2.

All the injustice and unfairness of the situation surfaced.  “But Daddy, …”

But I was able to explain that she only got 2 monies because she only did her job twice in the week.  Graciously, I did offer that if she was willing to do her job with a happy smile, then she could get 7 monies every week.  She quickly agreed to take her job back and do her work with a happy smile.

Why I’m Glad I Fired My Daughter 

I know our kids are young, but I think that since I fired my daughter she was able to learn an important lesson she wouldn’t have learned.  I don’t think she saw the direct connection between working and getting paid because the payment happens once a week.  However, when she missed getting paid as much as her siblings she realized that her refusal to work negatively impacted her paycheck.

Ultimately, it was a good teaching point for all the kids.  I was able to emphasize to the two older ones that it’s not just important that you do your job, but that your attitude matters.  People who we work for don’t want us to grumble and complain about our jobs, and if we do, we might not be able to keep our jobs.

Have you ever had to fire one of your children?  How did it go over?  Have you had any good opportunities lately to teach your kids about money?




  1. says

    This is awesome. Excellent choice, Craig. Now she respects that she should do her job and has become more forward-thinking. It’s an important lesson to learn, so it’s a good thing that it happened to your youngest, as it will have an impact on her and her older, more cognitively advanced, siblings.

  2. Wes Smith says

    Great lesson Craig! I sometimes encounter adults who still need to learn the lesson your daughter learned at 3 years old. You have taught her a very important lesson at time when the consequences were small so she won’t stuggle with the issue when the consequences are greater.

  3. says

    What would you have done if she had decided to quit (or accept the firing)? Would you have just let her stop picking up the papers and not pay her?

  4. says


    What an excellent idea. We have been working with our 8-yr-old on doing jobs for “monies”. We have been using more of a point system and she has to keep track of her points during the week. Then we give her a certain amount for each point. It is a little like filling out a time card. Some weeks she has not kept track of her points and got nothing.

    I love the example with your three-yr-old. Classic!

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