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How to teach kids the value of hard work

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

How to... instill a solid work ethic in kids

Prepare your children for the real world and teach them to take pride in themselves through the value of hard work.

Teen working as lifeguardStep 1: Lead by example

Parents and caregivers need to be good role models for children. Because there are so many outside influences on our kids (and they aren't necessarily always positive), parents should strive to be the best influence on their children. To teach your children about hard work, you need to work hard yourself. Allow your kids to see you at work, whether at your job or at home. Let them see you working hard, interacting with people and being proud of your accomplishments.

Step 2: Start chores early

From a young age, give your child the responsibility of completing small jobs around the house. Even toddlers can help set the table, sweep the floor, do the gardening and pick up toys. Teach your kids to take pride in their work by showing them how you want chores done, and help them understand the results you expect. When kids fall short of the work standards, don't yell at them. Instead, show them how to do it again. Praise them when they have done the job to the best of their capabilities. Pick age-appropriate chores and remember that a toddler sweeping the floor won't yield the same results as a teenager doing the same task.

Step 3: Focus on spending time together

Don't reinforce the idea that material goods and money are the only rewards and purposes of work. Respect from others and pride in ourselves are also key benefits of hard work. Additionally, don't provide your kids with gifts, hoping to create a parent-child bond. You need to teach your kids that you are there for them emotionally and spiritually, not just monetarily. Rather than handing them a twenty dollar bill for a good report card, engage in a family activity. Read on to learn about how to find more time to spend with your kids.

Step 4: Help your child set goals

Teach your children that striving for nice things is acceptable if they understand the hard work that is necessary to buy the items they want. If your kids don't base their self-worth around tangible things, then setting goals to earn money and purchase these things is fine. Make a chart that shows how much money they will need to earn and save each week to purchase an item within a particular time frame. If you have the means, you can contribute to their fund. (For example, you could contribute half the cost of a used car.)

Step 5: Encourage part-time work

When a child is old enough (usually a teenager), encourage him to get a part-time job. Having a job outside the home helps teach children about hard work, responsibility, time management, honesty, teamwork and the value of money. Lay some ground rules about the type of jobs that are acceptable, then teach them about filling out a job application and interviewing for the position. Remind your child that schoolwork cannot suffer due to a job.

Step 6: Volunteer as a family

Volunteering is a fantastic way to show children that money isn't the only incentive for hard work. Help others by donating your time and effort to local charities, church activities and other organizations in need. Learn how to instill philanthropy in your kids and select volunteer projects for your children. VolunteerMatch.org is a fantastic resource to help locate volunteer opportunities.

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For more info on this topic...For more parenting tips, check out:
Get your kids' help with dinner

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