The development of a strong work ethic begins at home. In today’s world, success is based on academic achievement, character, and determination. A strong work ethic feeds into all three of these areas. Here are four steps for teaching your young child the value of hard work and honest effort:
Believe Chores are Necessary – Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., states in her article Teaching a Work Ethic, that “[parents] need to rethink [their] whole notion of chores. If you think they are optional,… so will your kids. […] Our kids pick up our attitudes whether we say them or not.” Hartwell-Walker also notes that in order to teach proper work ethic, parents need to believe and exemplify that work is a necessity of life.
Model Hard Work – As your child’s foremost role model, lead by example when it comes to completing projects and chores. If you desire your children to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, make sure that you’re putting your dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Model to your child that work becomes easier when done thoroughly the first time.
Assign Age-Appropriate Jobs – Teach your child to be a contributing member of society by first encouraging him or her to be a contributing member of the family. Give each child age-appropriate chores to be completed routinely. Establish the boundary between chores that are required of family members, and those that can be done later for extra pay. 7 Ways to Teach Good Work Ethic While They are Young has more great ideas about assigning chores at home!
Outline the Consequences – Hartwell-Walker explains the importance of clearly outlining the consequences of neglected chores when she says: “It’s [difficult] to connect life’s consequences with household chores, but consequences are still there. Unfortunately, the natural consequences are often visited mostly on [the parent]. Chores left undone fall in [his or] her lap… But, with a little creativity, you can make consequences clearer. For example, if [m]om has to do someone else’s job, she can’t possibly have the time to taxi that person where he or she wants to go. No need to be angry about it. It’s just a fact. And facts, presented factually, are far more impressive to kids than the high drama of anger and recriminations.”
Establish a routine, develop the understanding that everyone must contribute, and display the consequences of ignored work to help your child understand the value of contributing to a family and accomplishing a goal as a team. Fostering a strong work ethic in your child will greatly prepare him or her for success in all future endeavors.