Is your 12-18 years old child asking you for money to buy things they want? While I believe it is every parents job to provide to a childs needs, teaching him/her how to make money on his/her own to buy the things they want instead of giving it to them can be a life-altering gift to them… even if they don't see it that way at first.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
--- Chinese proverb

As a parent, one of your roles is to prepare your child to eventually become independant and self-sufficient. What better way than to each them the basics of how to make money when their life doesn't depend on it? Early teens is a great time to teach your child that they don't have to depend on you get money.

How can your child make money? Start by asking him/her and you just might be surprise by their imagination. Keep in mind that there are no bad ideas and your child needs to know that. It is important to encourage your child to explore their any ideas they want. Don't try to discourage them. They need to feel your support. This is not the same as doing it for them although they may welcome your help when they get stuck. Your personal knowledge and experience (wisdom) might tell you that a particular venture is not feasible but your child doesn't know that. Empower them as best you can with your love and support. How would it have felt to you at their age if someone had just believed in you? If you are lucky, someone did.

Some ideas may require more time, effort or financial investment than the child is willing to put in at this point in life. Encourage him/her and be allowed to their ideas. What may not seem feasible today might be perfect tomorrow.

Here are some ideas you can share with your son or daughter. Some kids just need a few ideas to get their ideas flowing while others may decide to pick from the list. Read through the list and make sure you are comfortable with the choices you offer your child and guide them to ensure they do it in a safe way. Remember, they don't have your lifetime of experience when it comes to being safe.

Invite your child to ask their parents, friends, relatives and neighbours if they need help around the house, clean and stuff like that. Here is a list of services your child might offer to do for them (always be sure to check your local government regulations):


  • Lawn mowing
  • Cleaning up yards
  • Raking leaves
  • Shovelling Snow
  • Weeding Gardens
  • Cleaning Windows
  • Painting fences/houses
  • Painting lawn chairs/tables
  • Sweeping patios and sidewalks
  • Retrieving Mail from far away curb boxes
  • Watering Gardens/flowers
  • Car wash
  • Car detailing (cleaning the inside)
  • Run errand (grocery shopping)
  • Garage sale (with adult supervision)
  • Recycling  such as selling bottles and cans, buying/selling items from garage sales (you must know the value of things before doing this)
  • Cleaning bugs out of swimming pools

Pet care

  • Walking dogs/exercising animals
  • Pet sitting (especially in the summer when people want to go on vacation)
  • Checking in on dogs/animals and feeding them when owner is out of town
  • Cleaning up dog feces

House care

  • Cleaning windows
  • Washing dishes
  • Doing Laundry
  • Folding and putting away Laundry
  • Dusting
  • Vacuuming
  • Picking up
  • Shampooing Carpets
  • Cleaning showers/tubs
  • Cleaning Toilets
  • Washing/Cleaning walls
  • Sweeping/Mopping floors
  • Cleaning countertops/tables/tv and computer screens
  • Cleaning Mirrors
  • Cleaning doors/doorknobs/touch up paint
  • Making other beds than your own
  • Cleaning other bedrooms than your own
  • Cooking (only your own family)

Community Jobs

Entrepreneurship is a great opportunity for teens to enhance their professionalism, time-management and organization skills, reliability, and confidence --- while providing a helpful service to the community.

Here are some community jobs your teen could do or jobs you could create to service people. Depending on your child's age and where you live, younger teens you may not be able to get hire by businesses if  he/she is under a certain age:

  • Babysitting -- Anyone can take a course (highly recommended). Look for ones that also teach you how to run a babysitting business. The skills you learn will help you later in life too!
  • Tutoring -- Share your knowledge in subject you are really good at in school or recreation.
  • Face Painting -- It can be as simple as using a stencil and washable face-paint or as complicated as your skills allow.
  • Craft Workshops -- Share your skills at making crafts
  • Delivering newspapers
  • Sweeping sidewalks of businesses
  • Cleaning outside tables of eateries
  • Sweeping around grocery stores and picking up all the trash
  • Picking up trash at the fairgrounds
  • Cleaning the port-a-potties at fairgrounds and or working sites
  • Sell Kool-Aid/lemonade/ice tea on weekends for community garage sales
  • Sell food and or drink when community has sidewalk sales
  • Offer to sweep and keep sidewalk tidy during community sidewalk sales
  • Painting/fixing your friends bicycles
  • Painting/fixing lawn furniture

Services for other people

  • Loading an iPod or iPhone with music (not your own music)

Note: A young teen should never go door to door on their own. Be sure to:

  • Lay down some basic safety rules
  • Arrange for some supervision
  • Talk about the importance of being polite
  • Be clear on what it is your child is offering
  • Ensure your child is clear about how they will be compensated
  • Determine how and when they will advertize their services

Take some time to go through some role playing of various potential scenarios. It will make them more comfortable, self-confident and most of all, it will help keep them safe.

Finally, be there for them, both to celebrate their achievements and to overcome obstacles. For example, they will need to understand that it is their services that are being rejected when someone says "No thank you", not them personally. Also, each "no" is getting them one step closer to their next "Yes!". Review what is working for them and help them learn how to build on their failures.

The only time they will fail to succeed is when they give up. Failure only occurs if you refuse to learn the valuable lessons from your experiences.

Have any other ideas? Please share !