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How to Teach Work Ethic to Kids

Updated on February 28, 2014
Working hard allows for good things to happen
Working hard allows for good things to happen | Source

Dr. James Dobson on Teaching our Kids to Work

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

Look around the United States. We seem to be losing our work ethic as a nation. It is becoming an epidemic. Too many people are in the boat and not enough are pulling the boat. People would rather take from the government rather than work hard. Too many living on government aid become a lifestyle and is passed on generation to generation. I am not talking about people who are unable to work, but those who are able to and refuse. We used to have a strong Judeo-Christian work ethic in this country but it is long gone know. If we do not change this trend, we are on the path towards Greece only much worse. It is time to teach our kids to learn how to work. Knowing how to work hard is one of the best skills that we can give them because it will lay the foundation for everything else that they will do. I am so thankful that my parents took the time to teach me how to work, which includes balancing work and life. It has been a great asset in my life. Let us look at how to pass this skill on to our kids.

Let Your Kids see you Working Hard

The starting point in teaching your kids any moral habit is to model it yourself. Lead by example. Kids will buy in better if they see you doing what you say. When you work around the house, let them see you work hard and accomplish tasks. Getting up and going to work, each and every day is a great way to demonstrate this as well. Also, if your workplace allows, bring your kids to work and let them see what you do and how you interact with your co-workers.

Teach Them why Work is Good

Work may not always be fun, but it is good for us. Let us take a look at a few of the reasons why it is good for us.

Protestant Work Ethic

A Strong Work Ethic Helps us to be Self-Reliant

A strong work ethic is one of the building blocks of freedom in a free society because it allows you to be free. As the old saying goes, “Hard work pays off.” In all honesty, giving it your all every time at work, for example, can mean that you keep your job in bad economic times and someone who does not work as hard loses his or hers instead.

Hard Work offers a Sense of Accomplishment

God gave us work in the Garden of Eden when he put Adam in charge of the garden. He increased the burden of work as a result of the fall. Every time that you put in a hard day of work, especially if it is physical work, you come away with a good feeling and a sense of accomplishing something.

Hard Work Results in Opportunities

Hard work is good because it leads to all kinds of opportunities. If you work hard in school and get good grades, you have the opportunity to receive scholarships to go to college. If you work hard during an internship, you increase the chances of being hired after it is over. A strong work ethic at work leads to opportunities to be promoted.

Chore Chart
Chore Chart | Source

Assign Your Kids age Appropriate Chores

A great way to teach your kids to develop a strong work ethic is to give them age appropriate chores. Kids at even a young age can help out around the house. Both of my sons love to help me when I am fixing something around the house or when I am building something in my workshop in the garage. One of the first things that my wife and I taught our boys when they were very young was to pick up their toys and put them away. As they get older, have them put their clothes away after being washed. The key here is to follow up and make sure that they not only do it but also to do it right. If you have teenagers, have them cut the grass and shovel snow. I want to be clear that I am not saying to load them down with all of the chores or so that they only have time to do chores, but to progressively learn how to work and to do their best every time.

A great reward for a kid when they are a great helper
A great reward for a kid when they are a great helper | Source

Praise and Reward Them

As kids learn to work, they should be rewarded with praise and rewards. It could be as simple as letting them play their favorite game for an extra half hour or give them a piece of candy. Another idea if they do an exceptional job is to take them out to their favorite restaurant or for ice cream. As they get older, pay them an allowance in exchange for doing their chores.

Developing a strong work ethic in your kids is a critical skill that will help to set them apart. It will give them confidence and a sense of accomplishment. In addition, it is important to start at a young age to train them to work hard. Be sure to praise and reward them for a job well done.

At what age is it appropriate to start teaching a kid how to work hard (even if it means just picking up their toys)?

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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      4 years ago from Brazil

      It wasn't that long ago the Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.". I am pleased to say that at least both of my kids have a good work ethic. They know if they want something, they had better work for it.

      The system in many countries needs to change. If someone is able bodied, they should be working.

      Sharing and voted up and useful.

      As Sid Kemp says, they need to realize the joy of work.

    • ercramer36 profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Cramer 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland

      Thanks April! I agree that as a society we are losing the concept of knowing how to work.

    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      My husband and I were just talking about this. They got to the moon with less technology that we have in a cell phone. More and more of our movies and tv shows seem to be remakes of previous generations. We have amazing technology but seem to use it mostly for play. Of course this is just my perspective and I may be wrong but I am afraid that our generation and our kids won't accomplish as much as past generations because we don't want to work at it.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      I would add only that we can teach children not only the discipline of work, but also the joy of work. By 8 or 10, children are ready to start helping prepare meals and actually doing laundry, not just putting it away. Remember that, before our current civilization, young people were getting married and having children at age 13 or 14. Let's prepare our children for a life of joyful work.

    • ercramer36 profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Cramer 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland

      Thanks Eric and teacherjoe!

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      5 years ago

      Good morning brother.

      Very good suggestions.

      As a teacher I have learnt that appropriate praise and rewards builds a child's self confidence and what they learn young, by the grace of God, will carry them through their life.

      God bless you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Buddy, I have to admit, I am kind of a slob, and most my work is in my head. A kid can't at 3 see that. I have to clean up, wash up and pick up and do chores with my 3 year old, so he gets it.

      We have to be careful and not teach a driving hard aggressive work style, but we got to preach hard work and the rewards that are not always monetary.

      I hope this hub gets attention. I feel so much better when I lay me down to sleep if all day long hard work did I keep.


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