15 July 2011

More info on helping your kids become self-reliant

Last Monday, I posted about a Shreveport Times article on helping your kids become more self-reliant. Today I came across two related articles, one geared towards teens, and another primarily discussing kids' financial self-reliance.

The "teen" post is from www.parentingteensinfo.com, and is titled Help Your Teen Become Self-Sufficient – 2 Minute Tip for Parenting Teens #164. This article is a quick read that talks about taking advantage of your teen's lighter summer schedule to help them do things that you might otherwise handle for them. In the process, they can learn valuable self-reliant skills like learning to do laundry, mending, help with the cooking, or learning to schedule appointments.

We've already been doing this in our household this summer, and it's been pretty productive. Our teen's appreciation for the things that are normally done for her (rather than by her) is growing. Getting her involved in shopping enables her to realize the value of self control and moderation in consumption, and also helps her realize how much things cost.

Speaking of finances, the second article I discovered is Teach Your Kids Self Reliance and Financial Responsibility, from www.yourlifeafter25.com. It focuses on teaching your kids to earn money, rather than to expect an automatic allowance for doing nothing. Using age-appropriate tasks, you can allow your child to earn a "commission" for doings set tasks around the house.

My parents raised me along these lines, and I believe that made a big difference in my outlook on life and why I believe in self-reliance so much. One difference for my upbringing is that what I earned was more like a "job", than a commission. Specifically, I had a set task (like mowing the lawn) that I had to do regularly in order to earn the money.

With a "commission" approach, a child can have a list of tasks they can do, each valued at a set amount. This allows the child to decide how much effort they want to expend, and therefore, how much money they want to earn. This is a system that I first encountered when my spouse used it with our daughter. At first, I was skeptical, but I eventually saw the value of the commission-type approach.

The job-type approach can result in hating the work that you're tasked to do. For me, that was decidedly the case: I still hate mowing the lawn. Then, it was just what I had to do to make the money I wanted. With the commission approach, the child learns better that they have some choice in employment. Plus, they can more clearly see the relationship between self-motivation and return on the effort expended. This more entrepreneurial attitude will serve the child better in life. They may rely more on themselves for determining their income, rather than seeing their income as something that determined by others.

One other thing to note about the second article is the author's mention of Dave Ramsey. This is another excellent resource. Ramsey has a few books on teaching kids about finances, which supplement the many resources he offers for grown-ups too. A great place for you to start with your finances is The Total Money Makeover. A good starting point for teaching your kids is Financial Peace Jr.: Teaching Kids about Money!

Have you used any of these techniques? How did they work for you?

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