A strong work ethic is not only an important skill for a career, it is also important for the education process, and for life in general. The act of working towards a goal and then seeing the results of your labor is an important task that needs to be repeated in order for that work/reward scenario to become embedded in your mind. Here are some tips to help parents in this area.
It is important for us to model hard work for our children. It may seem obvious but it’s worth pointing out that children learn by example so if we aren’t willing to work hard, chances are that they won’t be hard workers either. A great way to model hard work is to have your children work alongside you. Not only does this provide opportunity for conversation and bonding time, it also lets your children see your work ethic.
Don’t despise manual labor. Playwright Oscar Wilde once said:
There are moments when art attains almost to the dignity of manual labor.
When most people hear the word ‘art’, they immediately think of the fine arts like painting and sculpture, but something as simple as gardening or digging a ditch can be artistic in that it can express the unique style of a person. There is just as much dignity in working with the hands as there is in working with the head. Manual labor also has the benefit of cultivating humility which is a foundational element of a good work ethic.
Give your child chores that fit their age and ability. A 5-year-old might be responsible for setting the table for supper; a 12-year-old might be in charge of stacking and unstacking the dishwasher; a teenager might be responsible for mowing the lawn each week. Giving your children chores to perform empowers them to take ownership of their work and helps them develop into responsible adults.
As adults, more of our time is spent working than it is on leisure activities. Since we spend so much of our life working, it is important for us to have a strong ethic. Our kids may laugh when we tell them to enjoy their youth and the copious amounts of free time that they have, but it is true that adulthood is filled with more work than play. Helping our kids learn responsibility and the value of working hard is crucial, and it begins with us as parents in demonstrating that strong work ethic for our kids.
Part four of a four-part series on work.