My dad is one of my best examples of hard work. Even in his eighties, he’s still out working in the yard. Growing up we were assigned chores or we would help him with projects. My siblings and I still joke about each of us taking a turn holding the light for dad so he could see under the hood while he fixed one of our cars. That was a boring job! But one of my least favorite jobs was weeding the blackberry bushes because of their super big thorns and grassy weeds that seemed glued to the ground. Although at the time these chores seemed mundane, they taught me a lot about hard work and the sense of accomplishment after finishing something you start.
So many parents have learned the value of hard work. The question is: are we sharing that knowledge with our children? I have seen first hand in schools and in homes that today’s generation of kids are not learning the importance of hard work! Kids are learning to have instant gratification without doing any work.
Being a hard worker doesn’t come easily or natural for most people. To help your kids be high-functioning adults, you have to teach them how to work hard and to learn to do hard things. They are capable of doing so many great things and especially learning how to be hard workers.
Stop for a minute and assess your home situation. Who is doing all of the work? Where are the kids and what are they doing when you are working? Who helps in the kitchen, with laundry, in the bathroom, or cleaning up their rooms? Now is a good time to get your kids involved and helping your family share the responsibilities in the home.
There is so much value in learning to work. Kids can learn to pitch in with the housework without being asked. Working together helps you have family success and a clean, organized, functional home, and a nice yard. You will strengthen relationships as you accomplish challenging things together. Hard work helps kids learn life skills, become self-reliant, stay focused and on task, and be more productive.
If you seen my kids working now, you’d be amazed at what hard workers they can be. That wasn’t always the case. There are some things we have done in our home to encourage helping each other and building a strong work ethic. It will take more work for you at first to teach your children HOW to do specific tasks and time for follow through. It is so rewarding now, when I have a busy night, my kids can do it all and survive without me. They can make dinner, clean up, do laundry, pretty much the entire house can function without me.
Here are some things we have done to help teach the value of hard work. Pick a few to try out today.
- Pick chores that are at the ability level of your child. Here is a list of jobs for each age group.
- Use a chore chart or some kind of job tracking system. I liked doing a weekly chart and checking it off on Sunday evenings. Make sure that you have time to check their work once in a while throughout the week.
- Don’t underestimate their abilities. We watched a four year old boy once who was used to his mom feeding him. I gave him a fork and showed him how to use it. He did fine and his mom was surprised by his new talent. I’ve found kids usually surprise me with their abilities.
- Give them some rewards/earnings for their hard work. We like to give them some kind of monetary reward so they can practice saving/giving/spending. Here’s my post about teaching finances. On difficult projects we might reward them by going out for a treat or ice cream.
- Don’t give rewards for everything they do. We do expect our to kids to help with dinner without being rewarded. I like to have a balance of some chores that are part of their weekly earnings and some that are just expected because they are part of our family unit. Again, it’s finding a balance so they don’t come to expect something for everything they do.
- Do family service together. This has been one of the most beneficial things for my kids and for our family unity. Helping needy people, cleaning up the church, or helping at a charity yard sale have been so good for them. I notice they are much more grateful and kind to each other afterwards. Here’s my post on service.
- Everyone helps with dinner, meal prep, and clean up. Part of our family dinner time includes the before and after. I love to have everyone in the kitchen helping with something together. I try to assign them to different responsibilities depending on what we are eating that night…chopping, stirring, setting the table, dishes, etc. The kids are learning how to plan, prepare, cook, and clean up the meal. Here’s my post about teaching your kids how to cook.
- Work together as a family. It can be so much fun and really strengthen your relationships when you work to accomplish a goal together. Any time we have a big project in the home or yard, we try to get everyone to pitch in. Families that work together really do make amazing connections.
- Homework can be work as well but there are things to help ease the homework time and reduce stress. Here is my post about homework.
- Give your kids “practical” toys for birthdays and Christmas. My son got a lawnmower when he was one. He loved playing with it. He was always watching my husband mow the lawn so before long he was following him with his little lawnmower. It was an easy transition to help Dad push the lawnmower and ultimately to mow it himself. The 2nd picture is of a toy trimmer and the third one is of a vacuum my daughter received. They can learn a lot by mimicking the action first.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”Proverbs 22:6
- Let the kids help with the garden and yard work. There is an entirely new area for your family to connect and to learn the rewards of hard work. I actually love working in the garden while listening to a podcast or book. Some possible chores could be planting, weeding, weeding a certain section of the garden, picking the vegetables, mowing, trimming, etc. Here’s my post on the family garden.
- Be an example of a hard worker. My kids watch what I am doing and usually will follow what I do. If I’m in work mode, they know that they will be too. If I’m a couch potato, they come sit right next to me and don’t move until I do. They definitely follow my lead.
- Show your kids how to do it right. Walk them through each simple step. If you want the bed made right, you have to first show them HOW to do it. The next step is to HELP them do it. Then finally, you let them try ON THEIR OWN. It’s kind of like riding a bike.
- Make it fun! Not all chores have to be boring! Listen to music, talk while you work, tell stories about your past, or turn it into a game (like singing “Cleaning up is fun to do” while you clean).
- Organize the toys and games to make cleaning up easier. When my kids were little, we had one big bin that all of the toys went into. It made clean up so fast! Now they have lots of bins and they can only get one bin out at a time. (Another rule to help with the disorder). Making sure that everything has a place when it is put away helps simplify clean up.
- Give lots and lots of praise, even for really small jobs they do. Kids work so much better on praise rather than criticism.
- All work and no play makes for a really long day! Balance is so important in home life so that your kids don’t learn to resent hard work. Make sure that you plan time for chores, work time, recreation, fun, and play. Fun time together is just as important as a clean house, but you can have actually have both if you work together.
- Have a good attitude about work. Your attitude towards work should be positive. Keep it light and happy. When you talk about chores or even your job, try to be positive. Remember the blessings and abilities you have.
- Do the work first and then play. Especially on weekends or vacation days…my kids know to get right up and get started on chores and then they can relax or do whatever afterwards. And I really let them have their downtime the rest of the day. I think downtime is also important for them.
- Check that they are doing quality work. If I find out or notice that they didn’t do a good job, they have to do it again. I can usually tell if they didn’t do it. This happened last week when my son hurried to empty the trash and missed some cans. He had to go back and empty them all again. While they may not do it quite as good as I do, they know I expect them to do it well.
“Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that the love of work is success”David O. McKay
There is definitely value in a job well done. Kids can feel that they did a good job and can be proud of that. Teaching kids to work takes a lot of patience! It will take longer at the beginning and not be as good of quality as if you did it yourself. But keep at it. They will get better and one day you will be amazed at their abilities!
President Gordon B. Hinckley. He said:
The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.Gordon B. Hinkley
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