Every parent wants to give their kids the very best. But what does that mean? Is it the food on the table? Is it the latest and greatest gadget? Is it teaching them what not to do? Is it laying out each step of their development? There are so many thoughts about what the best entails, that I don’t believe there is actually a right answer — or a wrong one.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that childhood is simply an early stage of the aging process. It is not the finish line but rather an intense time of learning. So, perhaps the question should be, ‘what kind of adult do you want to be responsible for raising?’. It kind of puts a new light on things, doesn’t it?
Based on your decision, you can raise your child to be a pampered adult, for whom someone else will solve all the problems that arise. Or you can raise your child to be a responsible, strong-willed, and successful person who is ready for life’s difficulties. In either scenario, it is vital to realize just what your kids are learning from you during their childhood years.
Choosing The Not So Easy Road
I’m going to assume that if you are still reading this article, then you have chosen the latter scenario from the two listed above. I’m also going to assume that having chosen this road, you are aware that it is not necessarily going to be easy. This is why I believe that one of the most effective ways to focus the energy of a child is to give them an early introduction to entrepreneurship. Getting them fully engaged in their creativity while guiding them along the path to earning their very own money — well, in my experience with my kids, life got a whole lot sweeter when this happened!
Understanding how money and material benefits are earned
Although most children love to feel “adult”, involving them in business is not about allowing them to use family resources as if they were their own. It’s more about introducing them to the value of time and money.
If your children earn an allowance, the mechanism is already in place. With them, identify a couple of things they want. For example, their favorite ice cream, a new board game, and the bike they have been hounding you for. At this stage all of these all fall in the same category — something that mom and dad get for them.
What if you were to say to them instead, ‘save your money, and once you have enough you will be able to buy whatever you want.’? Later that week, and with ice cream in hand, you have the perfect opportunity to draw the comparison from the money spent to the number of hours it took to earn the money to pay for the treat.
Your child now has firsthand experience and knowledge of the relationship between what they have and the energy it will take them to pay for it — both in time and money. As this lesson is repeated over and over, kids begin to treat what they have, and what they are given, receive more respect and appreciation.
Consistency in trying and learning
Going back to entrepreneurship, business owners who introduce their kids to entrepreneurship sometimes say that it’s like learning to walk, as long as they learn only from their own experiences and mistakes. A toddler takes a step, falls down, gets up, takes another step, falls again, gets up….until finally everything comes together and they make it to Mom or Dad’s arms.
The same thing occurs when an entrepreneur starts a business. As an adult, we have been conditioned to think of falling down as failure and thus can become very hesitant to try. As a child, this is just part of a day that is full of adventure. Most kids retain this growth mindset and see only the opportunities, not the obstacles.
Development of independence in decision making
Using your child’s allowance as an example, what if you were to restructure the way they earn it. Instead of saying that their allowance is $20 per week, talk with them about what fee is reasonable for completing each task. Let’s say $5 for cutting the grass, $4 for doing a load of laundry (right through to folding), $3 for unloading the dishwasher, $2 for helping to cook a meal, and $1 for wiping down the bathroom counter.
Now, as virtually every child entrepreneur I’ve ever come across has a well-developed sense of donating time or money to a cause close to their heart, let’s see how your kid(s) feel about this. Perhaps they want to set aside a portion of their allowance…pardon me, income to donate. Perhaps they would rather spend some time helping a neighbor shovel their driveway. Whatever it is they decide upon, you can opt to reinforce their efforts by agreeing to match their time or donation.
Together you and your child have set up a pretty good way for them to earn however much money they want. Of course, there will need to be a task-completed tracking system, along with one for profits or time donation, and an agreed-upon payday. Perhaps even a monthly meeting to discuss any adjustments that need to be made.
Your child, along with your help, has just started their own business. The opportunities for them to learn about decision-making, independence, time/effort, among so much more, are endless. For example, how long do you think it will take for the lesson to sink in when they realized their decision to not complete any tasks, results in no reward or income being earned?
An article on how to develop entrepreneurial skillsets in kids goes into some great details and ideas.
Once the fuse has been lit
Let’s take our working example from above one step further.
You notice one day that your child, with their hard-earned income, has chosen to hone their chocolate chip cookie baking skills. Three weeks later, a recipe has been perfected and your pantry and freezer are full of more cookies than your family could eat in a month. What to do, what to do?
There is a 50/50 chance that your child, with their developing entrepreneurial mindset, will come to you asking about how to sell cookies. When they do — Bingo! A whole new world has just thrown open its doors.
According to an Action Entrepreneurship for Canada: Unlocking The Power Of Youth Entrepreneurship:
For young entrepreneurs to be truly successful, they require the confidence to take chances, embrace failure and perceive entrepreneurship as a viable career option. Young people gain confidence by increasing their competencies.
The key takeaways
Introducing the inner workings and rewards of entrepreneurship to your kids, especially at a young age, is one of the single best things you can do to ensure a creative and independent future for them. A future supported by a well-honed growth mindset has resulted in the fear of failure being radically reduced. A future where your child makes the rules.
To support this future with my own kids I, along with the help of my young daughter, have been developing a gamified online entrepreneurship program. Follow along at URLYstart as we help kids create their own online business doing what they are passionate about. Click-by-click, blooper-by-blooper, you and your child can experience what my daughter Mirabelle and I are doing— the bonding of our relationship as we work together to realize her entrepreneurial aspirations and ignite the spark!
This post was previously published on Medium.
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The post Raising Children With a Mind Tuned for Online Business appeared first on The Good Men Project.