Do we, as parents, tie our identity to what we do rather than who we are (our BEING). My old boss of a small leadership development consulting company would always say, “we are human beings, not human doings”. Wow! Talk about shifting the mindset of a DOer/FIXer (me)!
Too often people think of themselves (and others) as “human doings” and thus attach any failed outcome to their own identity as a person and to their innate worth as a human being. This is something that each of us has to examine for ourselves to determine if we may need to shift our mindset. We also want to ensure that we don’t inflict that paradigm on our kids. If we can help our kids separate how well they do something from their identity, it will free up their energy to see failure as a key to the learning, growing, innovation process. [Here's a great list of positive words for helping you describe your child's behavior, character, or actions rather than their BEing.]
Regarding chores and allowance … after giving your kids some basic guidance on their work task or on their finances, be patient and give them some autonomy so they can work through things themselves. Allow them to experiment and falter or shine so they can test their abilities and learn.
“If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” – H. Stanley Judd
With money, allow them to decide what they’d like to spend their “Spendable” jar cash on. Give them the freedom to exercise “opportunity cost”, so they can see firsthand that by using their money on something now means they won’t have that money later for something they may consider more important.
With chores, after showing them how to accomplish a task, like washing the kitchen floor, for example, allow them to do it “their way” and experiment on how to accomplish the task in a way that gets the job done and works well for them. When my daughter Elissa was young, she wanted to clean the laminate kitchen floor like Cinderella, so she would get a rag and a cleaning spray and sing “Sing, sweet Nightingale” while cleaning (so cute!). That slow methodical approach to cleaning the floor didn’t last because it took too long, but she figured that out for herself and changed how she did it.
By giving our kids opportunities to make their own decisions and the opportunity to “fail” and overcome disappointment, they’ll not only learn, but they’ll realize that they’re not helpless. This encourages competence, independence, and resilience in the face of frustration. And as they develop competence in jobs that they take on and in the money that they manage, they’ll do a better and better job at it and be able to take on greater responsibilities with confidence. Luke 16:10
Intentional parenting takes work, but there’s a payoff. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Being paid for hard work, developing a spirit of contentment rather than entitlement, and developing accountability, independence, and confidence will all stick with our kids the rest of their lives. Learning how to be responsible for some of their financial decisions from a young age will increase their financial know-how, so when they enter adulthood they hopefully will be wise enough not to succumb to all the financial temptations that our culture has for them.
As a certified Personal Finance coach and an award winning Personal Finance Educator, Kathleen serves others through coaching and both online and in-person Financial-based Masterminds. She works with people of all ages, but her passion is to help young adults take control of their finances early and get on a path to Financial Hope & Freedom so they can live into their passions and purpose. Additionally she helps parents provide their children training and experience to become financially savvy and character-driven from a young age so that they avoid common financial pitfalls in their adult years.