How to Help Kids Gain Independence and Feel Confident

How to Help Kids Gain Independence and Feel Confident


wash caRemember how you felt the first time you got a pay check? Whether it was for babysitting those little monsters down the street or mowing lawns over the summer, it’s likely you felt proud. Money doesn’t equal self-esteem—hardly! But the feeling of earning something, on your own, without your parents’ help is an important part of developing self-esteem.   Summer can be a great time to teach kids about the value of a dollar and that hard work can pay off. Math and money skills, earning and saving, creativity, and even marketing are invaluable tools that make kids and teens feel good about themselves. Self-esteem and confidence come from feeling independent and proud. Extra cash in their pocket or more freedom from their efforts is invaluable.

If your child is 6 or 16 these lessons can be learned. It is never too early to help kids feel valued for their hard work and effort. Recently, a parent told me that her daughter couldn’t find a job, but really wanted to work with kids over the summer. She began volunteering at a church daycare. Even though she didn’t come home with cash, she came home with a full heart and saw her efforts pay off. The kids loved her, learned from her, and in turn she learned she could make a difference in the lives of others. What made her feel even better was when parents of these little ones started to call for babysitting jobs—meaning extra money! Here are some other great ideas that help kids of ages feel confident.

Neighborhood Needs

Even at a young age (with some adult supervision) helping out a neighbor who has their hands full or is going on vacation can be a money-maker for kids. From watering their plants, mowing lawns, dog walking, picking up their mail, pet sitting, or even babysitting, kids can cash in. Help them make posters, depending on their interests and ideas. After they create it, you can help through email or phone calls. Have them do the initial “marketing,” so that they are invested.

Rethink Lemonade

The idea of a simple lemonade stand can be a math and marketing lesson. Kids can research; what’s the best time of day for getting the most customers? Where is best location? What will be refreshing? How much will we need to spend on supplies? Get creative! How can they make their stand unique? Instead of classic Kool-Aid, maybe slices of watermelon or Popsicles. The summer options are endless.

Household Help

Not all chores are part of a child’s allowance or family duties. Sometimes the extra work can pay off, literally. Running an errand on their bike, washing the car, ironing shirts, or taking care of siblings teaches responsibility and builds self-esteem.

Clear the Closets for Cash or a Chance to Give Back

If the idea of a garage sale is maddening, you are not alone. There are so many resale and consignment stores and e-stores for kids these days. Help them go through their old toys and clothes, picking out things they don’t play with or fit into. Kids (and adults) can earn money on the spot. It’s doesn’t have to be all about the money, though. This is a great opportunity to teach your child about giving back. It’s a conversation starter about helping those who are less fortunate and who may really benefit from their old toys or clothes. Ask them to help you pick an organization they care about or would like to assist and make a trip to a donation center.

The most important life lessons are rewarded through the feedback of a child’s parents. So no matter what ideas they come up with, money earned or experience gained, make sure to express to your child how proud you are of their effort. It will make a lasting impression on their confidence for years to come.

Emily Roberts, MA, LPC