Teaching your children how to work is a lesson that will benefit them throughout their lives. Having a good work ethic enables children to study and achieve in school and to feel competent and self-sufficient. A strong work ethic also is key to their future success in the workplace.
A good work attitude develops from years of age-appropriate opportunity and responsibility that begins at home. Here are some ways for parents to instill a healthy work ethic in their children:
- Start early. Young children love to help their parents. Encourage them to do so. Let their little hands share the dust mop handle or the hammer. These early experiences will feed your child with good feelings for being productive.
- Teach. Find ways that your children can assist in housework or a do-it-yourself project. Remember, the goal isn’t to get a good day’s labor out of them, but to nurture their work attitudes and make them feel able.
- Have expectations. Even very young children can contribute to a household. Whatever their age, expect every child to play a role. Putting away toys, setting the table or raking leaves are examples of tasks that children can do.
- Work with them. Don’t send your children alone to the basement to clean for hours. Work together, and use the time as an opportunity to talk and bond, and to teach them to work cooperatively. When it fits the task, you can be the helper.
- Pay reasonably. Some parents prefer to tie chores to allowances. If you choose to pay for special work duties, keep the salary modest. A fifth-grader doesn’t need to earn the hourly wage of an adult.
- Be a good model. Parents are children’s ambassadors to the adult world. Lead by example, demonstrate responsible work attitudes and try to keep grumbling about your job out of your children’s earshot.