A strong work ethic – one that includes a positive and productive approach to work – is favored at home, at school, and in the work force.
Work ethic doesn’t just consist of the ability to work. It is comprised of a person’s attitude, feelings, and beliefs about work. When a person has a good work ethic they understand the benefits and importance of work and it’s ability to strengthen their character for the better.
Whether you have a good or a bad work ethic can determine how you set goals, how reliable you are, and how well you cooperate and communicate with others. It can also determine the effort, timeliness, dedication, honesty, and determination you put into completing a task. Your leadership and volunteerism choices are also impacted by your work ethic.
We may be able to bribe or threaten our children into working. But is that accomplishing what we want it to?
Teaching our children to not only work but to have a positive attitude about work is the key. Here are some tips on how to create a good work ethic in your child.
Let them contribute with chores.
Even young children can do chores. Parents shouldn’t feel they are burdening kids or robbing them of playtime. Children want to contribute and do things that make them feel valuable. Chores encourage the idea that service is expected in the family. If we don’t invite them to help, we miss an opportunity to teach and they miss an opportunity to learn.
Make Work Positive
If parents can tell or show kids how work contributes to the family’s well-being, children will be more positive about chores. Giving them choices can also help their attitude but don’t let them opt out. Incentives can also make work more fun.
Let Them Fail
It’s the effort that counts. Don’t expect kids to always do their tasks well but resist the urge to step in and take over. If the child fails to water the plant, let it wilt or die. If teenagers have trouble on a job, or even get fired because they fail to show up on time or do the job correctly, don’t make excuses for them. Let them learn that their actions, or inactions, have consequences. Talk about what happened and ask them what they can do to keep from repeating their mistake. Don’t rub it in, but don’t let them shrug off what happened either.
Explain the “Why” of Work
As children get older, it’s important for parents to discuss the meaning and purpose of work. Now is the time to make it clear that jobs are not done for drudgery’s sake but to create value, make products, or serve people or even a greater good. A young person needs to learn that there is a purpose to work. That doing a job well makes you a better person and enhances character and self-esteem. One way parents can start this discussion with their kids is by sharing their own work experiences – good and bad – and talk about the lessons they’ve learned and how they were shaped by those experiences.
In real life, work isn’t always fun. Sometimes the boss isn’t fair, customers are rude, and hours seem to drag by. Expect teens to complain about their jobs. Let them vent. In fact, encourage it. After all, adults sometimes gripe about their jobs too. Just be ready to offer encouragement afterwards.
Model Good Work Ethic
Kids learn good work habits when their parents have good work habits. You are the one that can show them that work is important and that it’s part of a balanced life. Resolve yourself that work is exactly what the name implies – work. There are things in life that aren’t going to be fun to do, but they still have to be done. As an adult we can still have a positive attitude about it.