Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Work Ethic: How to Pass It On

As children get older, it's important to discuss the meaning and purpose of diligent efforts. Make it clear that jobs are not done for drudgery's sake, but to create value, make a profit, or serve people, or even a greater good. Kids need to learn that there is a purpose to all of this -- that doing a job well makes one a better person and enhances character and value in others’ eyes, and in God’s eyes. 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 learned and how they were shaped by those experiences.  If parents can show kids how work contributes to the family's well-being, children will be more positive about chores

My Mother made a to-do list of daily or weekly household jobs and posted it on the Kitchen wall.  We did not have choices, we HAD to do what was assigned, or there would be a price to pay.  In our home, we don't let the kids opt out. But giving kids a choice of chores does help make work more tolerable.  Adding incentives can sometimes actually make work fun.
Contests –( i.e.,  for Fastest Room-Cleaner or Best at Vacuuming) -- get kids more involved, as do rewards.  Going out to a favorite park or restaurant, renting a movie, or inviting friends for sleepovers are just a few ways that parents can reward hard work.
In real life, work isn't always fun -- sometimes the boss isn't fair, customers are rude, and hours at work seem to drag by. Expect kids to complain a bit about their jobs. Let them vent -- in fact, encourage it. After all, adults sometimes gripe about their jobs too. But be ready to offer encouragement, and let the children know that hard work isn’t always supposed to be great fun, or even enjoyable, although it can be enjoyable!
Kids learn good work habits when the parents walk the walk. That means showing kids that work is part of a balanced, healthy life. For example, in our family, we have taken on second jobs, worked overtime, and even worked for free at times in our lives.  Our son has observed these times, and has discovered that doing extra work to get ahead sometimes can be beneficial, if it does not take priority over the family consistently.  We talk regularly about chosing a career or life work that you love.  We talk about education, earning potential in certain jobs, and about improving your life through work choices.  We are sure to emphasize that it is NOT always about making The Most Money, or about Buying Things.  But the fact is that at least one person in our son’s future family will need to earn an income, so we want him to be clear on the options. 

Kids will not always do their tasks well. But we muxt resist the urge to step in and take over. If the child fails to water the plant, it may be helpful in the longrun to let it wilt. If children 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 the mistake.

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