Age Bench Marks or Helping Your Child Grow Into Work

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Some families build discipline through sports or music training, and there are still farms out there, or family businesses for children to learn how to work and sacrifice. We were the basic family in the suburbs, and our children did music and sports but there were no Carnegie Hall recitals or college athletic scouts beating down our front door. Because I wasn’t a great musician or athlete, I wanted to expose my children to those worthy past times but my focus was teaching them to learn grit and how to work hard, so we worked on the basics–their own jobs done every day and family projects. I wanted to train them to be an amazing husband or wife. Anything that teaches self-sacrifice and hard work is valuable.

We started coming up with a structure of goals our kids could strive for. We wanted to have them reach and stretch and learn to wait. We came up with Age Bench Marks that helped guide our family through the token economy without making everyone cry and fall apart. These are some of our Age Bench Marks:

  1. At the age of 12 our children start working for others for money. In our family, we start a 12-year-old mowing lawns and babysitting, or in our youngest son’s  case, making bread (that is another post). Usually that is people calling them and asking for their services. That circle includes neighbors and friends of the family. It is a very safe way to launch into the world of working for someone else.

     2. At the age of 14 they can find 5-10 hours week jobs with people in or out of our ward (neighborhood boundary for those who attends our same church services). One daughter worked at clearing tables at a wedding reception center, finding the job through one of her friends. Another son worked for my friend’s home based candy business, packaging and shipping the candy. My harpist daughters played at weddings and parties, usually through contacts from my husband’s work. Wonderful Teri Monks, who is in my ward, had three of my children start to work for her at this age. Bless, bless, bless her. This is a critical time in adolescence. Your teenager wants to move beyond your home to make more money, and you need to let them. One daughter was stuck at home on a day she needed to work and couldn’t reach anyone to drive her. She jumped on her bike and rode the 5 or so miles to her job. This feeling of responsibility is such a big deal. Other people are counting on your children to do what they say they will do. I was so proud of my bike riding daughter for realizing her responsibility and acting on it. She solved a big problem for herself.

       3. At the age of 16 they can work and get a real paycheck of minimum wage. It’s hard for some to make that leap, to go and apply for a job and put in a resume. Our greatest success is having them ask in the circle of who knows them and knows what hard workers they are.

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  1. They start washing their own clothes when they are 12. This is a great skill to teach your kids. Another careful, time-consuming chore initially but such a pay-day when they take that on themselves.

My family was in a roll-over car accident when I was in the 7th grade. Luckily no one was killed but my older sister broke her neck and my mother had some neck issues as well. Because of that I had to take over all of the family laundry and still remember learning that from my mother. She showed how to separate whites, darks and delicates. She showed me how to shake clothes really hard if you are going to hang them to air dry. The best tip of all was putting clothes in for five minutes and getting the wrinkles out, but not keeping them in the dryer the whole time, especially for delicate clothing. Some kids are really careful with their clothes because they are paying for them now, others, despite careful training, will still throw in whites with their jeans and have blue underwear. It’s a great way to teach how to take care of your clothes because they are paying for them. I love seeing a row of shirts air drying on our banister, that I didn’t put there.

More Age Bench marks in my next post. What Age Bench Marks do you have for your children?

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