Do your children work hard? Teaching our children to work is easily overlooked in our modern culture where we want an easy life and encourage our children to have a fun childhood.
How do you get a good “Work Ethic”?
We want our children to work hard, to appreciate the effort that is required to have a good work ethic and to understand that one’s reputation in the community can be affected by how you put your hand to the task. We have been very conscious though that we don’t want our children to be turned off work, or more significantly, turned off being with Dad, by making them endure long, hot, boring days out with Dad on the job. In the early days, relationship with Dad was our main focus and they didn’t go out with him unless he could spend time with them as well as get the job done. Our thinking was – on the one hand it was important to gain experience at hard work, and yet on the other hand we didn’t want to put them in situations where they would develop negative memories. We thought that training to work hard was a physical, life skill issue.
Then one day I had to adjust my thinking. Joshua, 14yo, had the opportunity to be with his Dad in the cattle yards while we were camping as a family. He worked beside his Dad for 3 hours in the middle of the day. It was hot, dusty and hard work. He really enjoyed himself and made the comment that it would be a good thing to do when he was older – earn some money, learn some skills.
Josh was so very tired. But his father commended him highly – he had worked a man’s job, all day, on his feet, once again in hot, dusty conditions, keeping his attitude right and cheerful. I realised our boy had a work ethic – he could put his shoulder to the task, he could last the distance and most importantly he kept his attitude right. How did this happen? Though Pete has the boys working around the house block when he can, and Josh had taken on various responsibilities such as spraying for weeds, a whole day was a big thing. When did he grab hold of this value?
A week later, Pete took him out to another set of Cattle yards – they rose before first light and they didn’t get back home till well after dark.
It dawned on me that a work ethic isn’t as much a Physical or practical area of life as it is a Moral area of life. Though we hadn’t taught him how to work in Cattle yards, we hadn’t exposed him to big mobs of cattle and he certainly didn’t have any inbred Cattle sense, yet he had worked a man’s day. It was the value of responsibility, perseverance, enthusiasm that kept him going that day…. Character training… Work ethic is a Moral issue.
We cannot know the physical life skills that our children will require in their life
but we can prepare their character,
to help them take hold of any situation they face,
and do the right thing.
Character does not become a part of a person’s life until it is tested. It is in the making wise choices where a character trait is cemented in a person’s life. So though the ability to work hard is dependent on the traits of responsibility, perseverance and enthusiasm (to name a few) it is in practising these moral choices, in the every day life situations and actually enabled him to grow in those character traits.
Though the children have rarely been out “on the job” with their Dad, they have plenty of chores here at home. From when they were very little they were responsible for picking up their own toys. This happened several times through the day. As they grew older they took on sharing the morning household chores – the bathroom sink, the breakfast dishes, emptying the scraps, making beds and so forth. There are many household chores that the children can do, and yet they need training, step by step. I try and have one such chore where somebody is being trained. If I have too many chores needing a training phase, or too many kids doing chores in the training phase it is all too hard. Once one child has learnt a chore, and learnt to do it well, it becomes their responsibility for a while to cement the skill. Meanwhile I take on another chore and another child. Eventually we rotate chores so that they are learning a full spectrum of household tasks.
It is as they work through these household chores they come in conflict with their inner heart issues (aka moral conflicts).
- Will I choose the way of diligence? Or will I be slack?
- Will I choose the way of enthusiasm? Or will I be cranky?
- Will I choose the way of perseverance? Or will I give up because it is hard?
Each day, as our children pick up responsibilities they are being given the physical opportunity to make character wise choices. As they make these choices in the little tasks everyday they will be ready to make the choices in the big tasks.
Over to you:
What character traits do you think are the most important to teach your kids a strong work ethic? And how are you doing that in your family?
- 7 powerful truths for when you can't control anger - Rear. Release. Regroup. - […] ~Belinda from Live Life with your Kids, How to teach your children to work hard […]
Let me know your thoughts...
- How we Taught our Kids Household Chores (the step by step training process)
- Chores Teach our Kids Character (list of character traits to help with training)
- What Chore time looks like for Mum (when she is training her kids)
- Saying “I’ve Already Told you Once!” Is not Helpful in Training our Kids
I found this post on I Choose Joy! Great stuff here. I agree completely that work ethic is a moral issue, just like you said. Also appreciated the chore training rotation. I’m not sure I’ve been as systematic as that, and I love systems. So, good food for thought. Thanks!
Hi Mary – thanks for popping over and visiting with me (sort of!!) I too love systems – it means I don’t have to think so much every moment! It also means that the kids know what is expected of them and they can just go ahead and do it – showing initiative and ownership of their responsibilities.
Character building reigns in importance for our children. I really am impressed with how your son stuck with a hard task. I am trying to instill the same values in my daughter. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Mary – it takes time to grow in character! Keep at it with your daughter. It is very rewarding when they start to choose to live this way themselves!
Hey gal! I love your method for teaching your children new skills – focusing on one at a time. That makes it so much more do-able! This whole post is so good, focusing on equipping them with the tools of responsibility and moral character. As you said, it develops inner character and the questions you ask (will I choose the way of diligence or will I be cranky, etc) are quite measurable. I liked that a lot.
The story about your son learning a good hard day’s work was inspiring as well. Thank you for sharing this on Tuesday Talk – I’m going to use it as one of my top 3 features tomorrow! 🙂
Happy Monday, friend!
Morning Ruthie. Thanks for sharing this post. So often training our kids seems so overwhelming but I have tried to keep in mind over the years that we take one step at a time. We have so many years (and I know they go by fast!) but we don’t have to do it all today!!
I needed the reminder about training one at a time. I am running around trying to help everyone during our morning job time and it doesn’t make for a great start to our day. Thanks for this. I have so much I want to put back in place after reading this.
It can be a bit overwhelming when we find ourselves having to do a bit of catchup. One way you could do this is to do the chores all together – everyone in the bathroom and everyone has a different job – that way everyone learns, with you by their side, what is needed. Then the next day everyone does a different job in the bathroom. If you did this in each zone for a week (every day move from bathroom, to kitchen, to laundry etc), everyone would be brought up to a basic understanding and then you can start designating a chore to each child – they know what to do, how to do it and they can just report back to you when they are done.