5 Specific And Practical Ways to Teach Good Work Ethic

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There came a time in my life when I left my ‘real job’ in order to focus more on my kids. Leaving was an incredibly difficult decision, since the company I left sincerely cares and very generously rewards a good work ethic. My job was not hard, by any means, however, it required accuracy, consistency, and the ability to work without a boss looking over your shoulder.

I worked from home for 6 years. No boss to make sure I wasn’t surfing the internet, or texting, or snacking while I was supposed to be working. I was after all in the privacy of my own home. However, I learned to work hard even when someone wasn’t looking at a very young age.

How do you teach good work ethic?

I don’t say this to receive accolades or praise for myself, however, I do thank my mother for promoting great character in our home. My three sisters and I were raised by a single mother, who often worked two and even three jobs at a time to make ends meet. She worked hard, and her consistent dedication instilled a good work ethic in all of us.

My children’s father too came from a hard-working household. Since both mom and dad were often at work, many of the household responsibilities fell on him. There are two ways we can look at these situations. We can say “poor us, our parents should have been around more”, or we can say “we learned valuable lessons, that prepared us for the real world”.

5 Specific & Practical Ways to Teach Good Work Ethic

Mom and young daughters talking text on image reads: 5 Specific And Practical Ways to Teach Good Work Ethic

1. Teach Responsibility to Your Kids

As my husband and I became parents, we quickly realized that the benefits of teaching a good work ethic early. This would end up being extremely rewarding. We implemented a chore system and trained our children to participate as young as 2 years old.

Don’t get me wrong, my two-year-old was not expected to make dinner, or vacuum the living room; but she was expected to pick up her toys. She also learned to collect and place everyone’s shoes in a single pile, and to keep the remote control in a box on a bookshelf.

Teaching our children to be responsible for specific tasks doesn’t take a whole lot of work, especially when we start young. However, it does require consistency.

2. Teach Your Kids a Sense of Ownership

Yes, it’s far easier and quicker for mom or dad to pick up scattered toys, but this hinders the child’s sense of ownership of the task. Believe it or not, young kids long for independence and to be active contributors in the home.

Just think of how many times your toddler has uttered the word “mine”. Or how many times she’s demanded you look at her when she’s discovered a new skill. Or interrupted a conversation you were having with another adult. They want to be involved, so let them.

3. Self-Discipline Needs to be Taught

This is probably one of the most difficult skills we can teach our children. I ordered a case of disposable coffee cups last Wednesday night. Per my Amazon Prime membership, they would arrive Friday evening. I was shocked to find the box had been delivered early Thursday morning. No more than 8 hours from the time my order was placed. Thanks to online services like Amazon, there’s no need to wait for anything because no matter what we want, it’s at our fingertips.

Your kids and mine, are growing up in an era of instant gratification, and the act of waiting has become a lost art. If there’s no need to wait, why should you?

Teddy Roosevelt once said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing, unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”

So how can you teach your child to have a good work ethic through self-discipline?

You do so by setting goals, benchmarks, standards. Set reasonable expectations, based on age and ability. I’m not talking about a reward system where the child gets something in exchange for something else. Instead, teach your child that simply completing a task is a reward in itself.

The rest of Teddy Roosevelt’s quote is as follows: “I have never in my life envied a human being, who lead an easy life. I have envied a great many people, who led difficult lives, and led them well.”

Teach your child to live life well.

4. Teach Time Management

Think of how much time you’ve spent on social media alone this past week. If you jotted down the length of time you deviated from what you were supposed to do, to check on your social accounts; you might be appalled. I know I was. Sure, I can make excuses and say that social media is part of my business, however not all my time on Facebook is spent on making business contacts.

Numbers 3 and 4, go hand in hand. Good work ethic taught through time management skills matches perfectly with self-discipline.

When my son was 5, and deep in the Pokemon phase (late 90’s), we set specific times for card trading, and video game playing. After many weeks of being completely consumed by the Pokemon phase, he realized he hadn’t read a single book. He hadn’t gone to the playground with the intention of just playing hide and seek. It was then when he learned to manage his time wisely. Sit with your child, and together set a healthy time expectation for hobbies and goal completion.

5. Kids Need to be Taught Failure

The word adulting lists 6,610,000 search results. The urban dictionary, defines it as: Being a responsible adult. Used by immature 20-somethings, who are proud of themselves for paying a bill.

Paying a bill is not something you should be rewarded for, but something you are expected to do. In fact, it is something you-get-to do. However, far too often, parents rescue their adult children from all situations, like by paying their bills. Helicopter parenting is crippling. 

Failure is critical if we are to grow. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F Kennedy

Teach your child that failure is expected and that when it comes he can get up, and try again.

A good work ethic doesn’t develop overnight. It is to be encouraged and worked on overtime. It is to be demonstrated and lived out by parents who wish to raise responsible and caring adults.

What are some practical ways you can teach good work ethic?


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Tatiana Adurias: I’m a Bolivia native who lives in Sunny California. I’m a proud mom of six. Yes they’re all mine and sometimes I wish I’d had a few more. I’m a homeschool mom, writer, aspiring apologist, bibliophile, and compulsive organizer. I’m passionate about inspiring, encouraging and equipping mothers to raise children who love Jesus. I write about motherhood and homeschooling (following the Charlotte Mason philosophy) and organizing. Connect with me at Purposeful Motherhood. [magicactionbox]


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4 Responses

  1. Would you mind sharing a link to task player? I tried to find it on Amazon and Google play, but I don’t see it. Thanks!

  2. I like the sound of that app. My adult kids use something similar – it does my head in – but it works for them. This app sounds much more simple – I’m going to look into that for a little 5yo I have here often.

  3. Talia, that is a great idea! So glad it is working well for your daughter. I think that would be good and helpful for most kids!

  4. One of the ways we have taught our daughter work ethic and especially time management is through an app called Task Player. You can set up your to do list and then set the amount of time you want the tasks to take. Your to do list then plays like a playlist. As my daughter has sensory processing disorder and attention issues, having the list right in front of her and a friendly chime telling her to move on has been a miracle for her. She does her chores well without me having to stand over her nagging to stay focused or do what’s next. She’s pleased with her independence too. I hope by teaching her early to use tools to help herself that she’ll develop it into a life long habit for good work ethic and responsibility.

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