If you have a family business, get your child involved as early as possible. Appreciation of the family’s professional heritage and how that shapes his lifestyle is a tremendous gift. I don’t mean that your child should get involved as CEO. Maybe he’ll end up there, but their original position should be decidedly entry-level. If your business has an office, let your child refill printer paper or assist with filing. If your company’s line of work tends to be more labor-oriented, figure out a safe and age-appropriate way for him to help out. To avoid any confusion or legal trouble, The Houston Chronicle has a very informative article on current child labor laws.
Remember that the biggest disservice you can do your child is allowing him to help with the family run business and then give him special treatment. Doing so is an excellent way to raise a little tyrant who all your employees resent. At the same time, I have known some type A parents to be overly punitive to children employed by the family business, ensuring that no one could accuse them of preferential treatment. The idea is to engender appreciation and a work ethic in your child, not to make him rue the day he was born. Try to treat your child as you would treat any other employee.
If you are not part of a family-owned business, chances are you have a friend who is. It never hurts to ask if they need a little helper for small tasks, but again, make sure your friend understands that you are discouraging special treatment of your child. Your child is there to be helpful, not for your friend to do you a favor and provide free babysitting.
This isn’t something that you should wait to do. Start today and get good habits instilled while your child is still young.