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How Can Parents Help Their Kids Develop a Good Work Ethic?

by Oubria Tronshaw, studioD

Many inherent traits -- hair color, eye color or the ability to sing, for example -- are passed naturally from parent to child. Certain characteristics such as honesty, responsibility and a good work ethic are learned behaviors, and can only be passed on through repeated, concerted effort. If you want to ensure your kid becomes a hard worker, provide consistent examples of why and how hard work pays off, and give him plenty of opportunities to work hard and reap his own rewards.

Begin Early

Parents can help their kids develop a good work ethic by assigning chores early. Children as young as 5 years of age can feed pets, pick out their own clothes, straighten their rooms and prepare simple snacks. Completing tasks independently gives kids a sense of value and builds their self-esteem.

Family Dynamic

Once kids recognize they’re an integral member of the family, a good work ethic often follows. If mom does all the work and kids have no responsibility, then kids learn to take their parents -- and all their hard work -- for granted. Kids should have clear-cut household responsibilities, and should understand how what they do affects how well the household functions.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive feedback for a job well done also helps your child develop a good work ethic. Praise your kid for his accomplishments, so he feels validated for his hard work. Don’t praise him blindly without concern for quality, however, as that will only cripple him in the long run. Statements like, “Good try, but that’s not quite right. I’ll bet you’ll do better if you keep at it,” tell your kid that while you believe in his ability and you know he he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to, you refuse to settle for anything less than his best.

Reward System

Your child should learn early that hard work comes with rewards. Assign chores that yield results, such as mixing ingredients for a delicious cake or decorating the house for a holiday weekend. If you show your kids that the effort they put into something has a direct correlation to the satisfaction they receive, they’ll be motivated to work hard on their own. Consider giving a weekly allowance when your child completes all his chores.

Lead by Example

Parents can teach their kids about the importance of a work ethic by demonstrating it daily in their own lives. Whatever their profession -- from law enforcement to interior design -- parents should show their kids that work is both fruitful and fulfilling. If mom works day and night and never has any fun, kids learn that work equals misery. But, if mom works hard and then treats herself to the occasional massage, kids learn that working hard is a necessary prelude to playing hard.

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

Photo Credits

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