work ethic

10 Ways to Teach Your Children a Great Work Ethic

According to the magazine World, skipping work just got a lot easier. “Millions of Americans work dead-end jobs, and sometimes they just need a day off,” said John Liddell, who helped found Vision Matters, which sells notes as part of its Excused Absence Network. “People are going to lie anyway,” said Liddell, who’ll sell a fake jury summons, forged doctor notes, or a funeral program with your name listed among the pallbearers to dishonest employees.

We would count John’s ethical fallacies if we had time. How do we 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 isn’t “if” you are teaching but “what” you are teaching. It’s important to understand that home is a natural and continuous learning environment. Everything we do instructs our children. What are your children learning about work by observing you?

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” to support “do as I say.”

3. Balance is job one.

A work ethic that sacrifices family turns out to be all work and no ethic.Every family has its own take on how much work 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 shares how he 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 phrase “fun after the work is done” associates relaxation with completion rather than relaxation as escape. People experience more satisfaction in their leisure when it is preceded by a satisfactory job performance.

5. Work with your children whenever possible.

How is a guide different from a boss? A boss typically barks out orders and waits for results, whereas a guide is willing to walk alongside. As dads who have to teach our kids 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 organizations. 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.

Compliment. Encourage. Throw in the occasional treat, “because you kids have been so responsible this week!” Admire their good work, but don’t pay them for fulfilling their responsibilities. However, do consider paying your children for jobs that go above and beyond their normal chores. 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.

Sound off: How do you teach your kids to have a good work ethic?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how hard of a worker do you think you are? Why?”