Let’s talk about children.
Children can be expensive.
Entitled, demanding, spoiled children are a massive liability – first to you as their parent and later, to themselves when they have to pay their own way.
The wrong habits, if allowed to blossom, last a long time.
Perhaps, even a lifetime.
I’ve heard the complaints – fathers lamenting how their teenagers treat them like an ATM.
I have a couple of teenagers myself, plus a five-year-old.
Once upon a time, they only had to look at me a certain way or use a particular tone of voice, and that was enough to weaken my resolve.
I would reach into my wallet and buy them the thing, whatever it was.
I rarely do that anymore.
Growing up, my parents were careful with money, and I was taught from a very young age to understand the relationship between work and reward.
As a result, I never asked for money – not without asking first what I could do to earn it.
This habit achieved two things.
It taught me how satisfying it was to earn and own what I wanted.
For example, when I was 12, I knew that every single nut and bolt on my motorcycle was mine because I had earned every piece of that gorgeous red machine.
Secondly, it enlightened me to the fact that I could have anything I wanted if I just earned enough money for it.
It was entirely up to me.
Today, my teenage daughters almost never ask for money.
One of them runs a successful YouTube channel and earns additional income doing beauty makeovers for clients.
The other is building a channel too, plus works part-time at a grocery store.
When they were little, they learned to perform small tasks around the home for pocket money.
As they grew older and the objects of their desires grew more expensive, they requested larger, higher paying jobs.
It’s amazing how quickly a child will come to understand the real cost of an iPad or a concert ticket when they work for them.
They also learned the importance of setting aside money for long-term goals, and now both are busy squirrelling money away for their respective first cars.
When they finally buy them, they’ll know they’ll have earned them.
Pride of ownership is a big deal, lost on many of today’s kids.
Now my 5-year-old is doing the same thing.
We want him to be a competent and enthusiastic reader.
We also want him to keep his toys organised and the lounge room free of clutter.
He wants another Power Ranger toy and a steady stream of new games for his iPad (the kids is brilliant at Minecraft).
We sat him down a while ago and explained the relationship between the things he wants, the money they cost and the work that’s required to earn that money.
We then struck a deal where he reads at least one book every day and in exchange for that, receives a dollar every time.
To ‘qualify’ for a new iPad game, he knows he must keep things tidy and organised.
If he does this consistently, he gets a new game – never straight away, but usually the following Friday.
He understands delayed gratification.
As for new toys, the look of pride when he hands over his hard earned for his latest toy is so priceless it almost brings a tear to my eye.
He knows he has earned it.
Habits are formed from a young age, so it pays to make them great habits.
We all want our kids to be strong and independent.
Teaching them how to manifest what they want shows a greater love for them than simply giving them what they want.
One of my younger daughter’s friends recently received a new iPhone – in every single colour.
My daughter was suitably disgusted.
Sarah knows what it takes to earn what you want and moreover, she understands the damage this girl’s parents are doing – in the name of their own stupid, shortsighted egos.
She can picture the struggles this girl will experience later in life and the great skills her parents deny her.
As a young boy growing up, this key principle certainly worked for me, and now I can stand back proudly, and witness the enormous impact it’s having on my kids, too.
As my very successful friend Ken once said, “I’ve never seen a kid benefit from being spoiled.”