I am very fortunate to have parents who know the immeasurable value in teaching children at a young age to work hard and to earn what they want. I once wanted a very expensive baby doll, and my parents agreed that they would pay half if I would earn the other half. At the age of seven, with a burning desire for that new doll, I would have done just about anything. My parents had me pick cherry tomatoes in the backyard for $.10 each tomato. Little did they know this was such an enjoyable job for me! I not only learned how to work, but I also learned how tomatoes should look before they get picked. Come Christmas, I was $1 short on my half of the bargain, but my parents, seeing I had learned my lesson, got me that doll for Christmas. I still remember the joy I had running up and down the hallway with that baby in tow, knowing I had done my part. That doll’s name is Jennifer, and she is a treasured reminder of the precious gift of hard work.
Teaching children to work is a priceless gift, not a punishment. I am grateful beyond words that my parents knew and taught the principle of working hard to earn what you want as it’s come to my aid in massive ways. The entitlement mentality that many live by is robbing them of the joy and contentment that hard work brings.
I understand that not everyone has the luxury of paying his or her children to do chores around the house (especially when their “toys” start becoming more expensive). This is absolutely not the only method of teaching your children to work for what they want. The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started:
Garage/yard sale – Have them contribute some of their own items, help price items or set out the items on the day of, or hold signs to point people to your sale.
Bake sale – Have them help you measure or package or advertise. You could even add these baked goods to the list of items to sell at your garage sale! (Tip: I suggest incorporating popcorn: most people love it, and it’s so cheap when made from scratch!)
Lemonade/hot chocolate stand – I was so excited as an 8 year old to make $10 from this! I don’t remember having much help from my parents on this one, but I probably did! I’m sure it depends on your children’s ages.
Neighborhood car wash (or at a business) – This is a great time to teach them how to wash a car, and most people are just so impressed that kids are learning to work that they don’t notice that their tires aren’t perfectly cleaned.
Candy bar selling door to door – This was my JAM! If you don’t have a Costco or Sam’s membership, ask a friend who does have a membership to buy a couple boxes of chocolate candy bars for you and head on out to sell those babies! By the way, the younger children can do really well with this if you’ll but teach them to do the asking!
Taco/Burger/sandwich stand – I would opt for an easy lemonade stand, but with all these food trucks becoming the rage, I say why not give it a try?! You may have a chef in the making!
Not all of these will work for every family, (and I tried to stick to only family-oriented ideas, not individual “fundraising” like card marking, lawn mowing, etc.), but I’m certain that if you’re committed to teaching your children to work, you’ll find a way to show them how to earn money. These ideas may not be your ideal way of teaching them or your ideal way of making some extra income, but maybe it will be the start of something beneficial for your family.
How about you? What are some ways you’ve tried to teach your children to work? Are there any ideas you could add to the list?
Photo credit: Clem Onojeghou
Quote: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. —Chinese proverb