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4 Ways to Instill a Good Work Ethic in Kids

Wondering how to instill a good work ethic in kids? Start practicing these 4 habits.

Practice these 4 simple habits to help instill a good work ethic in kids. Influence how they do their chores, finish their homework and help the neighbors.


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.

Colossians 3:23

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!”

Your kids can have a good work ethic! Show them how.


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.

Proverbs 25:11

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.)

Wisdom talks about work Bible study

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 Cover


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.

How to Instill a Good Work Ethic in Kids: Wisdom Talks About Work Bible Study


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.

. . .

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.


The Real Family's Guide to Family Devotions: Honest Answers to Questions You're Scared to Ask


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?


Shared at: Tuesday Talk, Coffee & Conversation, SHINE, Thoughtful Thursdays, Grace & Truth, Modest Monday, Nourishing Joy,


  1. We’re on a similar wavelength this week! Teaching industry is so important. I appreciate the reminder to be an encouragement, it is so easy to get caught up in the perfection of the job and miss the relationship. Have a blessed day!

    • Industry, diligence, perseverance . . . all beneficial characteristics for so many areas of life. Even as adults we can continue to grow in them. Thanks for stopping by, Margaret.

  2. Such awesome words of wisdom. Thanks, Abi! I often have to remind myself that my example is worth 1,000 words. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Yes . . . the example of what we do and how we talk about what we have to do – even the small comments I make to my husband.

  3. Great tips! I feel like this will be an area we train our boys in for the foreseeable future! Thanks for these great points to ponder! Blessings!

    • Yes, we’ll be working on working well for a long time to come as well! Often have to remind myself to check the example I’m setting.

  4. bekalynn02 says:

    Such a great post! I totally agree that we need to set the example. I know I get so frustrated with my kids when they complain about chores but then I find myself complaining often. It’s so important to instill in them a good work ethic while they are young and remind them that this training at home is preparing them for the workplace. The most important thing for us and them to remember is that we need to do it unto the Lord as you shared!

    • Sure is a job to stay on top of our own attitudes, isn’t it? Remembering WHO we really work for, no matter what it is we’re doing, is definitely perspective changing.

  5. great tips. As with most things, teaching by example makes things much easier. #shine

  6. Establishing a biblical perspective is a good one to add to this list. Giving our kids the reasons why something is important has helped them through many sliding attitudes!

  7. Great post, Abi. I’ve always been a big advocate of working alongside my kids. It’s made all the difference in their attitudes. Also lists. They hate hearing my voice over and over.

    You’re doing good things over here, friend!

    Shared and pinned!

    • Yes, a list to keep referring them back to, especially for school assignments, is really helpful. Thanks for dropping by with your encouraging words, Ruthie.

  8. This was great, Abi! I can almost fee the exhaustion coming on my kids as I speak the word chores. Yet 5 minutes before they were running through the house playing! I love your tips. They were both practical and easily to incorporate. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • So glad this resonated with you, Alisa. I have to make sure I haven’t been groaning about my chores when I hear the kids start to complain!


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