How to instill a Work Ethic in Your Children


Is your child diligent in his or her work?  Do they enjoy routine chores?



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I have found that as my children grow older, it is important to discuss the reason behind being a “hard worker.”

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. I talk to my son in the car about how my character was shaped by the work experiences of my past. I am hoping that if I can show him how work contributes to our family’s happiness and peace, he will be more positive about doing chores.


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Learning Bike Repair with Dad



My Mother made a to-do list of daily or weekly household jobs and posted it on the Kitchen wall when I was growing up. My brother and sister and I did not have choices, rather, we HAD to do what was assigned, or there would be a price to pay. At the cottage, there is no “opting out” of chores.  Giving kids a choice of chores does help make work more tolerable, however. And adding incentives can actually make work fun.

Contests –( i.e., for Fastest Room-Cleaner or Best at folding laundry awards) — get kids more involved, as do rewards. Going out to a favorite park after the work is done, watching a favorite movie, or inviting friends for a picnic out back in the yard are a few ways that we have rewarded hard work here.

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Broom skills and dustpan skills are learned early at our house


I don’t have to tell anyone that in real life, work is NOT  always fun — sometimes the boss isn’t fair, customers are rude, and hours at work seem to drag by. I expect kids to complain a bit about their chores, but I don’t tolerate it in extreme. I recommend you let them vent — but only for 2 or 3 minutes, then nip it in the bud.  I don’t want to encourage raising a griping employee, but I do want to be empathetic to their loss of play time.  I recommend that you 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 fun!

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Our son loves to help remove sheet rock and demolish walls  (we were remodeling the basement in this photo)



Kids learn good work habits when the we, as parents, walk the walk. What I mean is that showing children that work is part of a balanced, healthy life, they learn to accept that chores are just another part of their day.

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For example, in our family, my  husband and I have taken on second jobs, worked overtime, and even worked for free at certain times in our lives. Our son has observed these periods of time, and has discovered that doing extra work to get ahead sometimes can be VERY beneficial. He knows that we dug ourselves out of some heavy debt one year when we both took second jobs, juggling our schedules and working night shift while the other parent cared for the home and family.  It was a difficult, busy and stressful year, but when it was over, the peace we felt made it worthwhile.

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Michael and I talk often to our boy about choosing a career or life work that he loves. We talk about education, earning potential in certain jobs, and about improving his life through work choices. We are sure to emphasize that it is NOT always about making “The Most Money,” or about “Buying Things.”  The fact is, though,  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.

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Learning to arrange flowers with Grandma


What about the mess?   I cringed at first, when the house looked worse AFTER the chores were done than before!  (Think window washing by a 4 year old).  It is not rocket science to realize that kids will not always do their tasks well. But we as moms  must resist the urge to step in and take over. If the child fails to water the plant properly, it may be helpful in the long run to allow it to die.  Sometimes we DO have to do the chores over again (smudgy windows are not my favorite).  I want my child to learn AS MUCH about work as possible here at home, when he is in my charge, rather than to learn the hard way out in the world.

I know this is a terrible thought, but if my son has trouble at a future job (or even gets fired) because he fails do the job correctly, I will have to let him learn the lesson… the hard way.  What I mean is, I can’t make excuses for him. I am practicing NOW to help him learn that his actions or inactions have REAL consequences. When he fails to do a chore to the finish, or does it sloppily, we talk about what happened, and then ask him to do it over.  We also discuss what he can do to keep from repeating the mistake.  I hope this will translate into a very diligent and responsible person at a job someday!

Do you allow your children to help you around the house?  What challenges do you face in doing so?   I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

Until the next post, here’s a HUG for you, my friend!


From Dawn Lynnette at Blue Willow Cottage

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