Instilling a child with a strong work ethic is critical for success later in life. Most achievements require hard work and determination. By teaching your child that working hard for what he or she wants in life is invaluable and why it’s important to take his or her responsibilities seriously, your child will be well on the road to developing a strong work ethic that can become second nature.
You can start to introduce the concept of a strong work ethic at a young age, which is when it’s best to do so. Here are some guidelines for how to teach work ethic:
Lead by example.
The best way to teach a child anything is by example. Take your child to work with you when you can, and let your child watch what you are doing. Teach him or her the basics of working at a job, such as being timely, doing good work and always doing one’s best, demonstrating initiative, exceeding employer or client expectations and personal expectations, and maintaining a positive and cheerful attitude.
At home, show your child how you handle various tasks and responsibilities, and that you’re not above pitching in for any of them.
Assign tasks and chores.
Make your child responsible for various tasks around the home, and give him or her a list. Many experts are divided on the subject of rewarding children for helping around the home. Whether or not you decide to give your child an allowance or other reward for doing chores, be sure that you acknowledge to your child the ways in which his or her contributions help the household.
Explain the reason.
Discuss with your child why the chore needs to be done and why he or she is doing it, so that your child understands the real-life application and reasoning beyond possibly receiving an allowance or reward. Be sure to explicitly spell out the consequences of non-completion of a task. For example, the dishes need to be washed so that the family has plates to eat off of and utensils to use with the next meal.
Make “work” a team effort.
For younger children especially, having them work together with you on chores can be a good stepping stone to teaching the value of hard work. For example, younger kids can easily become distracted by the toys that they were asked – a task – to put away. If you work side-by-side with your child, you can help keep him or her focused on the task at hand while showing how to stick with something to completion.
Use school for teachable moments in work-ethic application.
School is likely one of your child’s first experiences with developing a “work ethic.” Set clear expectations. Make sure that your child understands the consequences for completing or not completing schoolwork and homework, as well as for the amount of effort put forth.
As hard as it may be, allow your child to suffer the consequences that may result from a lack of “work ethic.” For example, if your child is falling behind in class because he or she hasn’t been studying, have your child find out if there is an opportunity to work for extra credit to bring up the grade. Or, you could hire a tutor and have your child dedicate more time for the subject in which he or she may be struggling.