Kids Who Succeed: How Parents Encourage a Work Ethic

How to Teach the Value of Work

Kids who succeed learn a work ethic as they grow up. We all want our kids to share in household chores, make their beds, carry their plates to the sink, pick up towels off the floor, and have organized backpacks. It gives us fewer tasks, but more importantly, we are teaching the value of shared collaborative work. Teaching a work ethic starts early. Let’s think about how to do it.

Six Tips for Teaching a Work Ethic

Kids who succeed have internalized the value of working hard and working together. The basic principle that is shared is that every family member has some work to do because they care about each other and the place they share together.  Here are some hints:

  1. Give your child a lesson in the value of work by making him or her feel needed.
  2. Even the youngest child is part of the family team if you give them a job in which they can succeed.
  3. Family priorities are divided based on each person’s capabilities and interests, so they feel they do their job well.
  4. Everyone feels good about what they do because parents say, “Thank-you.” Good jobs don’t go unnoticed: they are praised.
  5. Even when you’re in a rush, accept offers to help.
  6. Make household jobs social. Chat and put music on to make work fun.

How to Feel Successful

Help kids grow by accepting their offers to help you in your tasks. Kids like to feel grown-up and see that they can do what you do. You may find resistance if you wait until kids are teens to expect cooperation, so start early and make it fun.

When kids feel successful when they are two or three, it becomes a way of life. Even a two-year-old can pick up a towel off the bathroom floor and be thanked for the help. Don’t forget the thanks!

Even a three-year-old can pick out the shirt they want to wear and take it out of the drawer. In fact, that three-year-old can probably pick out their whole outfit, put it on, and look in the mirror with pride. Who cares if stripes and plaids are put together if they did it themselves!

Socialize Work

Down Time

Working alone can feel dreary and lonely for adults. This is true for kids, too. They enjoy working alongside an adult. Five-to-twelve-year-olds are more likely to help when they have the companion of another adult or peer than when they are by themselves. Older children are more willing to work on their own because they’ve discovered it’s more efficient. But they need to be told when their job is well done.

Specific praise is essential.

Rewards: Should Kids Be Paid for Chores?

There’s a common idea that kids should be paid an allowance for their chores. But this usually is the result of families that don’t develop a family community work ethic from the beginning. Then they “bribe” resistant kids with money for their tasks and call it an “allowance.”

The Purpose of an Allowance

But if the value is everybody helps with tasks because they are a collaborative team, then allowance is a separate issue. The reward is feeling like a winner: a successful kid! If you want to give an allowance so kids learn how to be responsible with money that’s a separate issue and should remain entirely a different subject for discussion.

Help kids understand hard-working parents provide financial stability for the family.

Share with your kids that you want to share the benefits of your work compensation with them because you love them and want them to learn how to value hard work and earnings. Talk together about a weekly allowance and how they can have a bank account, save for items that are important to them, and even save to give to others. Then, an allowance “allows” your child to learn how to save and spend money in the present and plan for the future.