10 Ways to Teach Your Children a Great Work Ethic
According to World magazine, skipping work just got a lot easier. “Millions of Americans work dead-end jobs, and sometimes they just need a day off,” reasons John Liddell, who helped found Vision Matters, which sells notes as part of its Excused Absence Network. “People are going to lie anyway,” he said. Dishonest employees can buy from him a fake jury summons, forged doctor notes, or a funeral program with their name listed among the pallbearers.
We would count John’s ethical fallacies if we had time. How do we All Pro Dads instruct our children to swim upstream against a slacker culture? Here are the 10 ways to teach your children a great work ethic:
1. Understand the fact that you always teach, regardless of intention: The question when it comes to teaching at home is not “if?” but “what?” It’s important to understand that home is a natural and continuous learning environment. Everything we do instructs our children – so the question is always “What am I teaching?” and “How can I teach the right lessons?”
2. Example, example, example: If parents own a positive work ethic, then we’re already halfway there. This is a great opportunity for “do as I do” supporting “do as I say.”
3. Balance is job one: Every family has their own take on how much is too much. But it’s essential that we teach our children balance in terms of work. In his book “Quiet Strength”, Coach Tony Dungy deliberately taught his coaching staff and players that family time was their priority. A work ethic that sacrifices family turns out to be all work and no ethic.
4. Keep family priorities in order: The simple, “fun after the work is done” associates relaxation with completion rather than relaxation as escape. Kids experience more satisfaction in their leisure when it is paired with satisfactory job performance.
5. Work with your children whenever possible: Question: how is a “guide” different from a “boss”? Answer: a boss typically barks out orders and waits for results – whereas a guide is willing to walk alongside. As dads, teaching a work ethic, our role is that of guide.
6. Take your children with you when you volunteer: Pick up garbage together on the side of the street; join a team that fixes things at the park; hook up with volunteer efforts at church or other community groups. Work associated with service is a key building block to the value of work across the board.
7. Expose them to stories about heroes who learned the value of work: There are hundreds of great stories to reinforce this point. Movies, books, articles. Read them together and then live them, day by day.
8. Make chores at home a shared responsibility: Every member of the family should have assigned chores on a routine basis. Change them around; help each other out; take turns with the ones no one really enjoys. Don’t wimp out on the chores, and don’t let your kids wimp out either.
9. Don’t pay kids for routine chores: paying children to participate in family life sends the wrong message. Work in the family is an intrinsic value and is fundamentally worthwhile. Compliment; encourage; throw in the occasional treat “Because you kids have been so amazingly responsible this week!”… Admire their good work, but don’t re-assign the value of expected work to the false value of cash. However, consider paying your children for jobs that go above and beyond their normal responsibilities. It’s a wonderful way for them to learn the value of a buck.
10. Have a “chore chart” on the refrigerator: And feel free to use this one.