More than Allowance: Building Positive Work Habits in Your Kids

Delegating chores around the house for children not only integrates them into family life, it’s often a necessity. There are too many tasks that need to be accomplished throughout the day for parents to do alone.  Children should be learning, starting at a young age, what it takes to run a household. But, does doing daily or weekly chores mean that your child will also build positive work habits? While it certainly will help, there are other strategies to consider that will strengthen their enthusiasm regarding work.

Age-Appropriate Chores and Allowance

Children may start helping clean their room and play area at the age of 2 and 3. After that age they can help with pets, fold laundry, put groceries away, clear the table, and close and store their techie gadgets.  As children get older, of course, they can handle lengthier, more robust tasks like mowing the lawn and weeding. 

Providing children an allowance to help them learn the value of money, saving, and spending wisely, can start as early as age 5. Teach them to save, what to save for, and comparison shopping, in an effort to crystallize the concept of money. Consider paying children an allowance in the form of a Visa gift card. You can choose a special photo for the card, like a favorite pet, or one of you and them together. You can even choose text for the card, including something like, “Great job” or “Way to Go!” for additional motivation. Children may be more apt to save when given an allowance in the form of gift cards because they are more sentimental than cash. 

Provide Additional Chores as Special Opportunities

When a child is motivated, they will want to put in the time and effort to do more work. Parents usually have consistent, regular chores that are expected of the child. However, they can also offer, whether it’s a spontaneous opportunity like washing a muddy dog or a once in a while opportunity, additional chores, to give their child the incentive to work more to earn more. This will instill a sense of pride and determination in the child.  They will see that the harder they work, the more they are rewarded.

Nobody Said Work Can’t Be Fun!

To kids, and to adults, the word ‘work’ is often met with a feeling of drudgery and chained commitment. Teaching children that while work might be necessary for the betterment of life and is important, it’s also necessary to teach them that it doesn’t always have to be a struggle. Turn on some music, dance around the kitchen, and make slipping bottles into the chute at the recycling center a game by seeing who can do it the quickest. There are always ways to lighten the burden of a heavy load.  When you teach your child to have fun while doing something he doesn’t necessarily want to do, you’re instilling a gift that will last into adulthood.

Inspire Honorable Character Traits

Imparting a good work ethic in your child is just one facet of the prism. Surrounding a good work ethic are also the ideals: respect, integrity, confidence, self-motivation, good-judgment, and more. When you, as a parent, demonstrate these ideals in day-to-day life, it is more likely that your child will absorb this example into their personality. When your child demonstrates one of these positive ideals, take the opportunity to give them affirmative feedback. 

Encourage a Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Most kids won’t be invited to appear on Shark Tank, although some children have been there.  That doesn’t mean that your child can’t use his intelligence, creativity, and ingenuity to start their own business. Sit down with them and discuss their interests. Encourage their excitement every step of the way. Entrepreneurs are people with a passion that can’t be extinguished.  Parents can help that fire burn brightly.

Failure is a Part of Life

If you’ve ever been accused of being a perfectionist, you know that it’s not a comfortable place to be. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child, which may sound counterintuitive to building a strong work ethic, but isn’t, is the idea that failure is a part of life. Sometimes, goals just don’t work out. Helping them learn to accept failure, and to use it as a learning opportunity, will help them avoid burn out and chronic anxiety. 

Everyone wants their child to succeed in life.  It’s true; a good work ethic starts at home. Find reasons to praise them whenever possible, to help boost their confidence and make them feel valuable. Remember, kids are new to most experiences, so they will get things wrong more often than not, and that is ok. Praise their determination, and their stick-to-it-iveness.  Show them compassion both for a job well done, and their efforts toward it.