All parents want to set their children up for success.

For different people, that means different things, but one thing most of us can agree on is that we’d like our children to have a solid work ethic. Having a strong work ethic will undoubtedly help them with schooling, future employment, and eventually managing their own household and finances.

But how can you instill a work ethic in your children when the world is filled with endless distractions and entertainment?

It may take some inventiveness on your part, but it is possible. Children are more likely to help out around the house or volunteer to help a neighbor if they do not think of it as work. Take your cues from them. What are their interests? If your children enjoy the outdoors, get them raking leaves or shoveling snow. If they have an interest in business, encourage a lemonade stand or see if they are interested in starting a lawn mowing or babysitting service.

Some children are reward-driven and will do their chores if they know they will get a weekly allowance or will received some coveted item (a new video game, a basketball, etc.). I do not think of a reward system as bribery, but as a realistic introduction to basic economics: Your child provides a valuable service and is rewarded in kind.

Providing a weekly allowance also gives parents the opportunity to introduce good savings practices to their children. You might, for example, require your child to put fifty percent of their weekly earnings into a bank account, which can only be accessed on rare occasions. You could even start two savings accounts—one for “fun money” and one for “the future” (college, a first home, a wedding, etc.).

If your older child expresses interest in striking out on their own and finding a job in town, be supportive of that initiative. Working outside the home fosters a kind of independence and responsibility that is difficult to teach. Of course, not every job is a good fit for teens (and it’s always a good idea to make sure their work doesn’t interfere with schoolwork), but it’s worth supporting them in any way you can. Try to connect your child with potential employers; help them with writing their first resume; sit down with them and go over basic expectations of a job (show up on time; be polite; always treat customers with dignity and respect; etc.).

Building a solid work ethic in your child can start at a young age. Show them that work doesn’t always have to be boring or difficult. Sing when you do the dishes or make a game out of shoveling snow. Your example can help set your child up for success. Even if they are sometimes reluctant to pitch in, they’ll thank you later!


Want more information on setting up a savings plan for your child? Contact me and let’s talk!

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