There are a multitude of items on each parents’ teaching to-do list. We want our children to have good manners, to do well in academics, and to have aptitude in numerous skills. There is one more item that we need to add to that list: work ethic.
A solid work ethic will serve our children well as they grow up in an era of multitasking, demand for achievement, rigorous school workload, and a college admissions process that places a high priority on extracurricular activities.
Instilling a strong work ethic in a child takes time, discipline and an ability to know your child’s strength’s and weaknesses, as well as what motivates them.
Here are some steps to make that happen:
1. Start Easy
Building a work ethic is a process and you cannot expect a child to understand what’s expected of them right away. Also, you can't be too demanding of them at the outset. A good work ethic teaches a child how to approach their work, the ability to multitask, and the feeling of reward from a job well done. If you begin by breaking down each of those elements and taking some time to do so, they will probably catch on more quickly.
2. Create a Homework Routine
One thing that all kids have to do is homework. If you take their homework assignments and help them establish a routine to do the work and find a way to organize their workload, that will help them lay the foundation for a good work ethic. Assist them in prioritizing which assignment should be done first, second, etc., and make sure that they stay as focused as possible.
3. Remove Distractions
The main thing that interrupts the work flow for children and adults is distractions. Think of all the distractions that can crop up in our lives: television, internet, emails, texts, etc. When you build a work ethic, you focus on the job at hand, accomplish it, and then give yourself a chance to relax. If you can help keep the distractions for your child to a minimum by eliminating the enticement of technology, it will give them a better chance at learning how to work.
4. Give Them Chores
You don’t want to overload your child with to-dos, but asking them to help out around the house is not only necessary, it’s a requirement for learning a strong work ethic. These chores also provide you an opportunity to watch your child at work and show them ways to work efficiently.
Again, it’s important not to be heavy-handed. You want to guide them and not condescend to them for a lack of effort or poor effort. It’s always best to encourage rather than to denigrate, and by giving positive feedback, it will help your child embrace the desire to work hard.
5. Establish Goals
It’s unrealistic for anyone to work, work, work without a break. It’s important to set an achievable goal for whichever project you’re working on. Teach your children this goal as well. If it’s two jobs that you want to get done, then help them accomplish those two jobs and reflect on what they accomplished. This builds a sense of achievement and allows them to feel pride in what did.
6. Set the Example
Our kids watch us for guidance. They observe how we speak, how we respond to crises, and how we handle numerous situations. They also watch how we work. If we go about our work with a positive attitude and a game plan, our children will see that and naturally want to emulate it.
7. Let Them Reap the Rewards
One of the best things about working hard is enjoying the benefits of it. If we were all work and no play, we truly would be dull people. One of the key lessons to impart to your children during this time is that if you work hard and accomplish what you set out to do, you can kick back and reward yourself. If they earn an allowance, this is a good time to pay them and let them spend some of their hard-earned money.