Teaching children the value of hard work is one of the most important responsibilities of parents. Raising entitled and lazy children is a liability to our already impoverished society. Many parents are focused on providing their children with what they want, forgetting it is important that these children acquire necessary life skills that will make them responsible adults. Teaching children to work is exposing them to the dignity and pride of getting things done and equipping them with the necessary skills needed to navigate life successfully.
One of the problems with Nigeria today is that our value system has changed; many people want to hammer fast. People pray for “Ise kekere, owo nla” (little work with lots of money). But in reality, earning lots of money comes with a lot of hard work. Money comes from work and it is important that we pass this message on to our kids. For the sake of the future of our society, it is necessary for children to know that money is earned from putting in work. It’s even easier to show them this in this season that parents are forced to work from home.
Teaching children to work starts with introducing them to chores. For a family to run effectively, every member must play their part. The parents play their part by providing the necessary funding and guidance, while the children do their part by assisting with chores around the house. Growing up, we all had our daily responsibilities/chores – from sweeping the stairs to washing the car to weeding the compound, and fetching water. This, together with the compulsory morning duty in the boarding school I attended, prepared me for what laid ahead. My mum passed when I was 14 and from then on, it was my responsibility to manage the house and care for my 3 siblings.
Making children do chores is not child abuse as long as they are age-appropriate chores. Like I mentioned, chores are their introduction to the world of work. Beyond chores, children need to know that money is earned by adding value, and value is added when work is done. In developed countries, there are programs organised by non-profits that help kids understand the value of work and perseverance. We don’t have those here, so the onus falls on parents.
There are a number of ways to achieve this. One is by making them earn money for things they want, rather than just handing them the money. For example, your child wants a new edition of a game. Instead of buying the game, you can tell the child you’ll provide 25% of the money for the game while they have to figure out how to earn the rest of it.
Here are some ideas you can suggest to your child: they can start to sell things online on platforms that have already-existing online stores, they can use some of their savings as capital for this. They can also provide certain services in the neighbourhood that will earn them some money. It would also help if children/teenagers are allowed to learn profitable skills. If you own a business, you can employ your teenager for a month or two during the holidays (there is definitely no vacation this year). Let them work in a department where they can learn something new. That way, they are learning and earning. Teenagers can also learn skills like digital marketing, forex trading, and photography online. It would help if it is a skill the child is interested in.
While children learn new skills, they will need you to serve as their mentor. You are to listen to them, set targets, support, and encourage them, guide them in problem-solving and making decisions on their own. It is important that children understand that in life, things don’t just fall on your laps when you want them, you’ll have to earn some things. Do you have other suggestions on how to introduce kids to work? Let’s talk about them in the comment section.