15 Jan

Help Kids Develop a Strong Work Ethic

You spend too much time building up your child’s self-esteem. That’s right; in the age of bullying, you are doing too much to make your child feel confident.

work ethic

No, I didn’t say raising a confident child is a bad thing. I said you are contributing too much to the process.

It is far more important to teach your kids the value of hard work, determination and perseverance. Self-confidence will grow out of those attributes.

It Won’t Be Easy

Teaching your kids to have a strong work ethic might be the most challenging chores you face as a parent. There are a couple of things that will get in your way.

  1. It is much much quicker for Mom or Dad to do it. You can breeze through the room and everything will magically be in the proper spot within seconds. Send the kids in to clean the living room and it will take forever (and probably be worse off than when they started!).
  2. The kids will fight you tooth and nail; the very definition of that phrase is “to engage in vigorous combat or make a strenuous effort through the use of all one’s resources.” Doesn’t that sound exactly like what happens when you suggest the kids help clean the attic?!
  3. You hate to see your kids suffer. As you well know, work is hard. It is physically and emotionally draining.

While the process might be painful, it is also rewarding. Teach your kids the value of hard work now and they’ll be successful forever.

Here are nine things that will help you along the journey.

1. School is Your Kids’ First Job

Help your kids think of school like a job. Not only will it teach them to respect the importance of their education, this mindset will also help prepare kids for the workforce.

  • The boss (teacher) has the right to assign any task he chooses. No matter how trivial it may seem, encourage your kids to do it admirably.
  • There might be coworkers (classmates) who make group projects challenging. Muscle through. Take the high road. Focus on the end goal.
  • Do the work or face the consequences. No, your kids won’t get fired from school. But they may have to stay inside during recess or do extra assignments.

2. Incorporate Chores into Your Daily Routine

The majority of real-life tasks don’t happen once a year or even once a week. You, as an adult, are constantly bombarded by responsibility every hour of the day. You don’t spend days or weeks relaxing without things to do; neither should your children.

Assign certain tasks that must be done each day. For example, you kids must make their bed before breakfast. They need to pick up their toys before dinner. Encourage your children to be responsible for their own things.

3. Teach the Value of Teamwork

Responsibility doesn’t always need to be black and white. Yes, your kids need to learn to take care of themselves; no, you shouldn’t do the work for them. But what about doing chores together?

Certain tasks can seem overwhelming, no matter the age of the worker. We look at a messy room and have no idea where to start. Don’t let your young workers flounder.

By working together, you are teaching your children their first lesson in teamwork.

  • Prove two workers are better than one.
  • Keep little workers on task.
  • Show how work can be fun.
  • Identify a starting point so the task seems more manageable.

4. Don’t Use Bribes

Kids are rarely on the same schedule as adults and they seem to have only one speed—slow! It can be tempting to try speeding things up with a bribe. Or, bribes might seem like a good way to get lazy, uninterested workers involved.

However, using a bribe sends the wrong message to kids. You teach them to look forward to their prize rather than learn the value of hard work. Let a good worth ethic be the motivation, not cookies.

The work itself should be a prize. For example, we set the table so we can eat delicious foods. We do laundry so we have clean clothes to wear. We put our toys away so they don’t get broke.

5. Cause a Little Frustration

Here is where things get tricky. You want to guard your babies from all hurt and frustration, so hearing this suggestion might seem unloving. Hear me out though!

Find difficult—but doable—situations for your kids. Not everything should come easily for your youngsters. They need to learn to work for their accomplishments.

Encourage your children when they experience frustration. They shouldn’t give up, but they might need to take a break. Let your little workers catch their breath, regroup, and try again.

Share stories about other people who have struggled and succeeded. For example:

  • Thomas Edison didn’t do well in school, but he went on to invent more than 1,000 things–including the movie camera.
  • Walt Disney was fired from his first newspaper job, but later created Mickey Mouse.
  • Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers; today, his books have sold more than 600 million copies.
  • Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school basketball team; now, he is the most recognized professional basketball player.

Don’t forget to tell your own failure-turned-success stories!

6. Discuss Consequences

If children are shielded from all negative consequences, they’ll never understand the full value of hard work. Help kids understand there are rewards to be earned if work is accomplished and consequences if it is avoided.

For example, she can’t wear her favorite red dress if she doesn’t first do the laundry. He can’t play with his race cars if they are lost in a messy playroom.

7. Recognize Effort Rather than Achievements

Not everything is praise-worthy. Some children have natural abilities—and that’s great. However, achievements that came from natural skills don’t require much effort. If kids are constantly encouraged for accomplishing the things that come easy, they’ll learn to avoid the difficult tasks.

Encourage your child when he tries really hard to accomplish something, whether the result was what he expected or not. The effort is much more noteworthy than the outcome.

8. Everyone Needs Balance

Don’t push your children too hard; they’ll only become unhealthily obsessed with success. There should always be a balance between work, family time, and hobbies. Encourage your children with the old adage; work hard and play hard. Otherwise, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

9. Help Kids Recognize the Perks of Hard Work

Work is, well, work. Most kids think work is a bad thing. Remind them that doing certain things can pay off in the long run.

For example,

  • Learning how to do simple things around the house helps you child become self-reliant. If he wants to wear his blue gym shorts to basketball practice, he doesn’t need to rely on mom to wash them; he can do it himself.
  • Hard workers are well respected.
  • Doing things for other people can make them feel better. Cook soup for a sick friend. Rake leaves for the elderly neighbor.

Self-confidence is a valuable characteristic, but it’s far more effective when it develops as a result of hard work, determination and perseverance.

How do you encourage a strong work ethic in your kids?