Teaching Kids Responsibility Through Work

What started out as a fun way to earn some extra dollars for the summer, turned into one of the greatest confidence builders and real life skills lesson opportunity for my boys.

For years we had a Reel Mower.  You know, the one that just spins, no engine.  The one that makes you work.  🙂

The boys would occasionally help us push, thinking it was great fun.  Then one day I looked out in our back yard and saw this picture.




Our boys had decided to mow the lawn on their own and were both pushing the mower.  They had gone to the garage, gotten out the mower and started on their own.   We decided to pay them $2 for their ingenuity.

Then somehow they got the idea to mow their neighbors lawn.  Soon they were over at her house pulling weeds, sweeping and mowing.

 Half way through the job the lawn mower handle broke and we were at a crossroads.  The neighbor had offered to pay the boys for their time and work, but they were not able to finish the job.

This was the first step in teaching responsibility through work.  The boys knew they needed to be responsible to finish the job, but we didn’t have  a mower that worked.

Instead of giving up, both boys decided to expand their lawn mowing business, realizing this was an opportunity to turn something little into something big.

So we went to Lowes and bought a lawn mower.



The boys excitedly talked all the way there, figuring out how much to charge, what days to run their business and what the name should be.

When we arrived home they immediately went into the computer room and started designing flyers.

And The Yards Care Dudes Lawn Care was born!

 The best part about this whole experience is that not only did the boys realize that by helping someone out and being of service to people in their community that they could get paid, but they learned valuable life (and business) skills.

After the first lawn at $2, they realized that $2 was not enough money for the time and energy it took. (Keep in mind neither of my boys is much bigger than the lawn mower handle!)

When the first neighbor tipped them, they also realized that people were willing to pay more.

So they came home and raised their prices and put a picture on their flyer, knowing that would drum up more business.

As we went door to door handing out the flyers, I watched the boys confidence grow.  At first they were nervous to ring the doorbell, but after a few houses of smiling neighbors, they proudly walked up to the door and rang the doorbell.  In fact, they were so excited they wanted to keep going, but they had already earned another job and I knew they needed to focus on their current customers.

Halfway through  lawn number two the boys realized just how hard running a lawn mowing service is!  They were dripping with sweat, only half way done, and the sun was beating down on their little shoulders.  They also realized that taking water to the job was important and so was the timing (mowing a lawn in full sun in the afternoon was HOT!)

I beamed with pride as I ran home to get them a water jug.  While I was gone, the neighbor mentioned they could take a break, but neither of them stopped for too long.  Tired, but proud, they finished the job and thanked the neighbor for his business.  He asked them what their prices were and he barely got them to say a word.  I stood by knowing that if they wanted the responsibility of running a business, they had to be ok with stating their prices (and not just handing out flyers or having mom talk for them.)

When they finally mentioned $6, the neighbor paid them a good tip and asked them to check in a few days.

As we were leaving, another neighbor stopped and asked the boys if they were ready for more jobs.  Smiling, they said yes!

After how hot that job was I was surprised they eagerly took on more.  I was even more surprised when we came home and they went right to the computer room to up their prices and print more flyers.

They were serious!

Well, what 8 year olds would not be serious when they just earned $34 in less than 24 hours!!!

The boys talked about how they were going to write thank you’s to their customers, “because nobody does that anymore.”

I could go on and on with the stories and lawns, but what really matters were the skills that by boys were learning.

You can tell kids all day long to think of others, to understand their own worth, to be responsible,  but having them run their own business  – priceless as they say.

If more people (young and old) ran their own businesses, people would be a lot nicer, a lot more thoughtful and much more responsible.   The skills, time, patience, passion, financial management, mind frame, service and dedication it takes to run your own business can never be taught in schools.  It is hands on, learn as you go and that is exactly why my husband and I were so proud that our boys started their own business and starting learning these skills at a young age.

Through saving all of their cash from The Yard Care Dudes (over $100!), the boys also learned the value of money.  As we went on various family vacations this summer if they asked for a toy we would say, “Sure, if you spend your own money.”   (Now don’t feel bad for them and start worrying, we treated them a ton on vacation… indoor skydiving, atv adventures, camping, hiking, etc.)

By managing money that they had literally earned through pure sweat and hard work, they were less likely to spend on frivolous things.  In fact, after nearly a month of vacation, all they spent their money on was a rock tumbler and 1 pack of gum.

Just last week one of my sons said, “Mom, I’m started to get worried about money.”  After I asked him why he replied with, “You have to think about when to keep it and when to spend it.”  After I told him, not to worry, that is a great life lesson, he perked up, proud to be learning something new.

Share your stories below, what life skills lessons have your kids learned through working/helping around the house?






About The Author

Summer Brackhan

Mom, sociologist, teacher, author, musician, world traveler, parenting and health coach who believes healthy living incorporates body, mind and soul and that life is not about living in little boxes, but experiencing everything at its fullest.

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