In today’s, I want it now world of easy credit, teaching gratitude isn’t an easy thing to do. Everything is available with the click of a mouse. You no longer have to shop or plan or drive or budget for anything. “You can have it all,” is imbedded in the minds of children at a very young age. Unfortunately, that is what they see as an example from society. Think cell phones for example. We trade in perfectly good phones that are months old because something shinier and cooler just came out and we “need” to have it now! Everything you want or think you need is flashing in your face constantly on social media and television. Everywhere you go,
someone always has the latest, greatest, coolest gadget and
you too can have it expeditiously delivered the very next day,
all from the comfort of your own home.
We live in a world where instant gratification is certainly the norm,
maybe even the expectation.
When my daughter was 8 and my son was 10, they believed I had a magic plastic money device. I put my magic card in this machine and it gave me money to buy whatever I wanted. They constantly asked for toys thinking we had unlimited funds. I got tired of them asking so I sat them down and explained to them that the money in the machine was money that our family earned. It was not unlimited and if we ran out of money, we could not pay our bills. So they asked how they could make money to buy the things they wanted.
Doing chores came up but I don’t believe in paying children to do chores. It sends the wrong message. No one pays me to do the laundry or cook dinner. They are part of the family and should help without expecting anything in return. Paying them teaches them to be entitled. It makes them think they don’t have to help unless they’re being paid. Maybe that’s a reasonable expectation at work, but at home,
it sends a bad message. So that arrangement was out.
They were still pretty young to have a job, so we started to brainstorm. We began with the premise that they had to offer something that no one else wanted to do. So we went through the obvious choices: Mowing Grass – Too Young; Running Errands – Can’t Drive; Baby Sitting – Again Too Young, and so it went. Then a week later, I had a light bulb moment. Pet waste removal! It needs to be done and no one wants to do it. I told my kids and they were less than thrilled at the idea, but they were willing to give it a try.
Scoopy Doo Pet Waste Removal was born.
We advertised in our neighborhood and our neighbors loved the idea. Before long they had 10 regular customers. From their little business, they learned how to deal with customers, they learned to take pride in their work, they learned how to collect money, and they learned how to promote their business. Some customers asked them to walk their dogs so their business expanded. Within a year they both had quite a bit of savings and when we went to the store, they no longer asked me to buy them things. They knew they had to purchase the things they wanted and they didn’t want to spend the money they worked so hard for. They learned the value of money and they developed a great work ethic.
They took better care of their belongings and
they were grateful for what they had.
They are now 16 and 18. My daughter still has her own business pet sitting, and my son works at a local grocery store. Working from such a young age has really created not just a sense of gratitude in them, but patience. They know it takes a long time to replace the money they spend so they are very careful in their spending. They may not drive, but they do shop, plan and budget for their purchases. Even on their birthdays or Christmas they never ask for anything. They are happy with what they have. I’d call that a successful life lesson.
By the way, they still call our debt card a plastic money device. They just stopped calling it magic 😉