Wondering how to instill a good work ethic in kids? Start practicing these 4 habits.
Do you ever shake your head at the energy and enthusiasm your kids display until it’s time to work?
You know those little toys with lots of joints held taut by a piece of elastic? When you press the base to loosen the elastic, they collapse in a heap. That’s what my kids remind me of when I say, “time to pick up” or “please empty the dishwasher” or “I want you to practice handwriting.” The very idea just saps the strength right out of them!
Clearly they have energy and enthusiasm to spare. They’re just a little picky about where they apply it. And if we’re honest, the same is true of us parents, too, right? We’re happy to apply ourselves to the things we naturally enjoy but more reticent about less desirable tasks. I argue with myself nearly every evening about whether I really have to wash the last of the dishes or fold one more load of laundry.
Unfortunately, kids are not born with the skills that contribute to a good work ethic. Qualities like diligence and dependability, perseverance and attention to detail have to be taught. The desire to work well has to be modeled and cultivated.
Like most characteristics we want our kids to demonstrate, a good work ethic starts with us. So, here are a few habits parents can practice to keep kids from collapsing when faced with work!
How to Encourage a Good Work Ethic in Kids
Set the Example
Talking about the benefits of a good work ethic won’t mean anything to our kids unless we support those words with our own actions. Do you want your kids to appreciate the value of working well? Show them how to do it. Express gratitude that you have a job and the ability to do it. Whether you’re working outside the house or working at keeping house, demonstrate diligence and perseverance to follow through on expectations and commitments. Strive to eliminate grumbling about the tasks required of you.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.
Work Side by Side
Working together is so much more fun than working alone. And it’s a terrific way to demonstrate a good work ethic. Include the kids in what you do. Cleaning toilets? Even the littlest helpers can flush! Washing dishes? Let them rinse. Pulling weeds? Show them how to effectively get the roots out. Is it their turn to vacuum? Stay in the room and help hold the cord out of the way. Clean out and wash the car together. The older and more responsible they get, the more skills you’ll be able to pass on. At some point, they’ll be proud to say, “I can do it without your help now, mom or dad!”
Be an Encourager
Oh, how we need to watch the words we speak to our kids when they’re working. It’s so easy, in the name of helping them do it right, to get too critical. Nothing will discourage a good work ethic in kids like belittling their performance. Always applaud their efforts and remember to show appreciation for their contribution. I definitely struggle with this, ’cause I want to see the job done right – the first time! But I know that working well is more attractive to my kids when I use my words to encourage their spirits. To point out what they did well.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Maintain a Biblical Perspective of Work
Did you know that work has been part of God’s plan from the very beginning? And the Bible has quite a bit to say about why and how we should work. It also talks about what work will and won’t achieve for us. (This post contains affiliate links.)
If your family could use some help understanding God’s perspective on work, you don’t want to miss the new Bible study from Path Through the Narrow Gate. It’s called Wisdom Talks About Work. It will certainly help encourage a good work ethic in kids . . . and parents!
Wisdom Talks About Work contains 30 short, easy-to-understand lessons that will help your family discover what God says about work. Each lesson is completely written out for you – no extra prep, moms and dads! Just grab your copy, look up the Bible verses, read the commentary and discuss the questions.
The lessons cover common passages on work, like Colossians 3:17 and the wisdom of Proverbs, as well as lesser known examples from 1 Chronicles and Hosea! In addition to man’s relationship to work, the study also covers the work of God at creation and Jesus’ work on our behalf. The commentary uses a combination of biblical exposition, fictional stories, historical examples and thoughtful questions to engage the listeners. My favorite lesson is number 10; it’s about being a busy body!
If you want to take the study a little further, workbook style journals are available for parents and youth (in 4 different levels). The journals contain age-appropriate activities that are both fun and through provoking.
Be sure to visit the Wisdom Talks About Work page for more details and answers to frequently asked questions. You can even download the first couple lessons for free, so you can test it out before purchasing.
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If family devotions or Bible time is a struggle for you, then you’ll be encouraged by The Real Family’s Guide to Practical Family Devotions. It’s full of down-to-earth, honest encouragement from 15 parents who know the value of “fighting the good fight” to establish and maintain family devotions.
Click any link or graphic to purchase the Bible studies today.
Well, what do you think . . . are your kids already good workers or could they use a little encouragement in that department? Are you cultivating habits that will instill a good work ethic in kids?
Which habit will you work on to be the encouragement your kids need?