Earning money is a rite of passage for children and young adults. Just as animals learn through play, our children learn valuable life skills through their first work experiences. Though employment of any kind should be a decision unique to your child and your family, earning money naturally develops your child’s responsibility. Children learn to manage assets and set goals for themselves. They gain vital real-world experience with money. Whether the paycheck comes from you, a client, or a boss; earning money is as much a lesson as a reward.
Managing Their Own Time
As parents, we manage every minute of our baby’s life. As they grow and develop, we slowly give them more and more autonomy. We keep them safe as they learn to make their own decisions and determine how much responsibility they are ready for. Earning money is a step toward independence for most kids and teens. The ability to earn, and spend, their own money helps kids understand the value of their time.
Earning money is a tangible lesson in time management. Time at work equals money. Time away from work equals less money, but may have greater value in other ways. Children who earn money can begin to balance their own schedules between work, school, and leisure. IN the beginning, kids will need more guidance in making decisions about their time. You may be tempted to make decisions for them, but it’s better to let them make their own mistakes. If your child wants to skip chores to play video games, the loss of income will be a valuable lesson.
Learning to Set Goals
Motivation can be difficult to maintain, even for adults. Creating a strong work ethic in a child is a challenge, and it requires a huge amount of incentive. Money is a great incentive in this journey. Children who earn money learn to set goals, even if they don’t realize it. No matter how they spend their money, they are working toward the goal of earning it. Hourly pay defines benchmarks along the way, and the final paycheck is an achievement. Eventually, those intrinsic goal setting skills can be transferred to other areas of their life, like school or family. Children learn what motivates them the most, and they are able to use to their advantage. When a child learns how to set goals and track their progress towards those goals, they are better equipped to manage themselves in the world. Goal setting will lead to greater responsibility in school and at home, as well.
Establishing priorities is a skill that goes hand in hand with goal setting. Our lives, and our children’s lives, are multifaceted. They have responsibilities for school, the family, their friends. They may have sports, extracurricular activities, and hobbies. Sometimes, our children can be so stretched that they become completely overwhelmed. Adding a job to that extensive list can seem like a bad choice, but it is often the catalyst that teaches kids how to set priorities.
It can be difficult to understand our own intrinsic motivations, but throwing an incentive like money into the ring shakes up the brain. Kids who earn money learn the difference between instant gratification and long-term achievement. They begin to understand what they want and need to lead a fulfilled life. Most importantly, they learn how to say no and limit themselves.
As they age, priorities can become values. What started as a natural side-effect of earning some extra cash becomes the foundation they use to plan for the future. What is most important to them? They will start to balance money, meaning, and personal wellbeing.
Spending and Saving Money
Of course, earning money in and of itself will develop your child’s responsibility. Will your child spend or save? Figuring out what to do with your funds requires higher-level decision-making skills. As they start to develop priorities and goals, they will make choices about how much money they want to spend or save. They will set more challenging savings goals to make the most of their earnings.
For young adults, jobs can come with expenses. Gas money or bus fare, a car payment, putting together an awesome babysitting survival kit; these things cost money. Your teens will have to decide how much they need to work to make these investments worthwhile.
As they learn to manage money, they’ll learn about the tools available to them. Open a savings and checking account for your teen. Maybe even get them a debit card. They will start to develop fiscal skills that will support them into adulthood.
How to Help These Lessons Hit Home
Earning money benefits your child in so many ways. Younger children can earn money for chores. Teenagers as young as fifteen should be encouraged to find part-time or temporary jobs. As your children address the challenges of working and earning money, listen to them and have meaningful conversations. Be open about your own responsibilities around work and money. Above all, be patient and supportive. All children learn by doing, but building responsibility is a journey.
Ron Stefanski is the founder of JobsForTeensHQ.com and has a passion for helping teenagers find jobs. He created the website because he feels that teenagers need to focus on their professional passions much earlier in life and aims to teach them how they can do that. When he’s not working on his website, Ron is a college professor and loves to travel the world.