Have you ever had your toddler throw a hissy fit in a store because they see something that catches their eye and they want it? What about a pre-teen/teen asking for money for things or to go out with their friends? OR a teenager needing money for all kinds of activities and outings? What’s a parent to do? Become a human ATM, handing out cash whenever Joey or Suzie wants something? Not to mention the confusion of whether we as parents should be funding all of our teenagers outings…
What if you could help your kids develop a strong work ethic and financial character, while alleviating their sense of entitlement, as well as halt the parental ATM syndrome? (Yes!!)
Much of What We Know as Adults We Learned as Kids
Have you ever heard of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? Well, much of what we know as adults with regard to finances, we learned as kids. Hmmmm….
So what if you could not only reprogram entitled “bratty” kids, but you could help your kids avoid most of the financial pitfalls that plague so many once they reach adulthood?
What I’m proposing (and have done with my own kids since the year 2000) is to intentionally focus on what our kids really need rather than what they want. Of course you’re going to give your kids the tangible stuff that they need: food, clothes, housing… but what I’m really talking about is a mindset and the tools that will benefit them over their lifetime.
One of the things I believe kids need is to understand the tie between hard work and money – more specifically the value of hard work and how to manage their corresponding finances wisely.
“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders” ~ Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby)
THE VALUE OF OUR KIDS’ HARD WORK
The first step in developing your kids’ work and financial character is giving your kids some age-appropriate work to do, even from a young age. At first don’t focus on quality but just on completing the job, especially with a good attitude. Give them a “good job!” and continued opportunities to learn how to be more effective at the task, thus increasing the quality even without comments from the parent. At some point, the parent might want to gently give some tips on how to improve quality, but let the child take ownership and responsibility for it for a bit before commenting.
There are so many lessons to be learned through working, such as: dignity in a job well done, trust & responsibility, how to follow directions, how to meet and exceed expectations, how to manage time, how to communicate with others in a mature way (boss, co-workers, etc…), how to accept constructive feedback or praise for job performance, etc…
It also helps kids see how they are part of a community like a family or a team in a company, whether they’re washing windows at home or dishes at a restaurant, setting the table at home or waiting tables at a diner, mowing the family lawn or landscaping with a company.
When they’re old enough to work outside the home, even if it’s dog-walking or baby-sitting at age 12, they’ll learn increased responsibility and independence.
Hard work is part of the antidote to entitlement, but additionally the tie between hard work and some form of payment helps give kids a sense of ownership, responsibility, and accountability. Intentionally training our kids to manage their money is the 2nd part to this equation of shifting our kids from a sense of entitlement.
“For the harder I work, the more I live. “ George Bernard Shaw
PAYMENT FOR WORK OPTIONS
Giving your kids an “allowance” just because they’re part of the family and not having it tied to work doesn’t represent reality. It’s similar to being a parental ATM except that perhaps they now have to manage the money that they’ve been given. And while that’s a start, they miss the lessons, skills, and character development of working to earn the money. It can actually reduce their confidence, promote dependency, and rob them of their personal dignity.
What kids learn now will stick with them as adults.
There are numerous methods for helping kids earn money for work. Check out the following:
I’ll dive more deeply into these in another post, but suffice it to say, that payment for work helps our kids understand the value of hard work, and because it develops character and skills that are life-giving, it sets them up for greater success for the rest of their lives.
Now I’m not saying that kids need to be paid for every task they do at home, and I’m not saying that there won’t be times that they volunteer in the community without being paid, but this discussion is specifically about being intentional about setting our kids up for success in the area of working hard, being paid accordingly, and in managing their resulting finances.
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.