Tweens are the golden years of 8 - 12. Most are still young enough to listen to their parents, and also old enough to learn some of the lessons that childhood delivers.
Listening to the older generations, we could be forgiven for thinking that our youngsters were the only ones who knew nothing about work ethics. I think that's unfair. I do believe that our kids need to be shown the way to establishing good habits that will remain with them, to foster strong work ethics as adults.
Many of our tweens seem to have grown up far too soon, and expect things to be handed to them on a plate. We can't predict behaviour in children, or how our tweens will develop, but we can help them to foster good work ethics for when they grow up. It's not just about finding jobs for children.
If children begin to help out around the home, they set a pattern for their future lives as a responsible adult. We also teach them valuable lessons in being self-sufficient.
My mother is of the opinion that all children should be children and parents should do all the work. She thinks that because I was never expected to do chores, that I have no right to delegate jobs for my children to get things done around the home. I disagree entirely.
Age Appropriate Tasks
My eldest was barely out of nappies when I began to send him on small errands. Passing me a napkin, or a spoon, or any other small chore that he could successfully do, began to set ground rules.
Tweens are old enough to help with things like setting and clearing up the table for meals, taking out the rubbish, collecting mail, tidying their rooms and much more.
Set Goals and Document the Barter Exchange
Who wants to work for free all their life?
Giving our tweens incentives for doing chores is no bad thing. I don't want to be raising children who think they get paid for every chore, but we have certain chores that accrue points which can be converted to cash.
Carrying shopping, cleaning the car and washing the windows accrues points. Cleaning their own bedrooms or putting away their own toys, shoes and jackets etc doesn't.
We have some occasions when we will discuss what needs to be done, and the kids will negotiate a settlement for what is a fair price for the chores to be completed. Sometimes the barter will be to clean the family room in exchange for an hour long trip to the local park. Other times it could be an ice-cream, or 50p.
The idea behind this is for tweens to build up their own ideas of what constitutes value for money and stop the me, me, me attitude that kids seem to adopt from the age of five these days.
Meeting Time Deadlines
Let's face it; few of us are on time, every time. Good work ethics requires a good sense of timekeeping, with reporting and tasks done as and when they should be. Giving our kids half an hour to clean their rooms "or else" isn't going to be as effective as saying, "it's 2.30pm. If your rooms are done by 3pm, we'll go and get a DVD for later."
Praise and Reward
Kids don't always want nor need money, goods or treats for doing what is expected of them. They do need to know they are doing the right thing.
Our tweens may still want to please their parents, so giving them lots of praise as a reward for getting the tasks right is helpful. Praise them, even for simply clarifying what actually needs done if they come across a problem. Praise lets them know they are on the right track.
It's all about our kids developing the confidence to use their own initiative to solve problems, as well as feeling they will have value in the workplace as an adult.