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how to teach kids to work hard

How to Teach Kids to Work Hard

probably should :)).
In this article I am going to share my best tips for how to teach kids to work hard. This is such an important principle, perhaps more important now than it ever has been in the past, when the world is so competitive and yet there are so many distractions that vie for our children’s attention and might make it more difficult for many children to put in as much effort as they could (and

 

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12 Important Tips on How to Teach Your Kids to Work Hard

One of the main ways that you can set your children up for success in life is to teach your kids how to work hard. When we teach kids how to work hard, we prepare them to be more successful at school, in sports and music and other extracurricular activities, and in future jobs and long-term careers.

Something that I’ve been interested in for the last several years and that I have studied some is what the factors or ingredients are for success. And different experts on the subject have different ideas on this, but one thing that many of them mention is the importance of hard work.

One of my all-time favorite books is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success. In that book he talks about the correlation between hard work and success in life. If you want your children to be productive and really successful adults, then teach them as they grow up to be hard workers. Below I’ll share 9 things you can do to teach your kids how to work hard.

 

1. Teach your kids how to work hard by being a good example.

Three simple words: Lead by example. If you want to teach your kids to learn to work hard, you need to show them the value of hard work by working hard yourself. That doesn’t mean that you should be a workaholic. Not at all. But it means that when there’s a job to be done in the yard or in the garage or around the house, everyone rolls up their sleeves and works on it till it is done. Of course you can also take breaks if needed, but when possible, work till the work is done. That will also teach your children the importance of following things through to the end.

 

 

2. Talk often about the importance of hard work and its relationship to success.

Teach your children that they can do difficult things by saying things like “It’s true that picking up all of your toys can feel hard to do, but you can do hard things” or “I know that practicing the piano every day might seem difficult, but you can do hard things.” or “I know that doing your homework is hard sometimes, but you can do hard things.” or “I know this hike might seem long, but you can do hard things.” And then also let them know that being willing to stick with difficult tasks and see them through till they’re completed is one thing that leads to success in different areas of life.

Doing well in high school can lead to scholarships that save thousands of dollars in college tuition. Doing well in college can lead to knowledge that helps you gain better-paying job prospects. Doing well at your job can lead to opportunities on higher-profile or more interesting, challenging, and rewarding projects and ultimately can lead to more frequent raises and promotions or bonuses. Working hard at your marriage or at being a better parent can lead to more happiness in the home and stronger, closer family relationships.

Teach your kids to work hard. Teach them that in many, many aspects of life, you are proportionately rewarded for working hard and giving the best effort that you can.

 

3. Teach your children the importance of diligent practice in music and sports.

Another way you can help to instill a strong work ethic in your children is to encourage them so that they are diligent in practicing for their team sports that they are involved in and that they also diligently practice any musical instruments you or they have decided they will learn. As they consistently practice, they will get better, and their being able to play effectively will be its own reward.

One of the things that Malcom Gladwell talks about in his book Outlers is the 10,000-hour rule and how it takes about 10,000 hours—research has shown—to truly master a skill. And he gives as examples The Beatles and Bill Gates and other household names to make his point.

Though your children may never give that many hours to the sports they play or maybe even the instruments they learn, that’s OK—the point is that they will get better as they practice, and practicing their sport or instrument is another way to strengthen their hard-work muscle.

 

4. Require your children to do chores, keep their rooms clean, and clean up after themselves.

Another way to teach your kids to work hard is by giving them chores. Of course you have to make sure they are old enough to reasonably do what you ask of them, but you can start assigning simple chores to your children at a pretty young age, such as helping to pick up their own toys after play as early as two years old.

As they get older, allow them the opportunity to take on more of the responsibility of helping to keep the home clean (and especially their bedrooms) and well maintained (such as helping to do yard work). This is pretty easy to do if you tie it to the opportunities they want to have. For example, you can make a rule that they have to tidy up their room and do their assigned chores every evening before bed if they want to play at their friends’ house the next day or use any electronics.

5. Don’t do everything for your children.

As you strive to teach your kids to work hard, be sure to not do everything for them. It surprises me sometimes how much some parents are willing to do for their kids. I mean, not the good sacrifices that you willingly make as a parent (so then are they even sacrifices?), but the over-the-top or perhaps even unethical things, like doing the bulk of their homework for their children or just going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that their children never have any challenges or difficulties.

Like baby birds in a nest who have to break out of their shell and are strengthened because of that experience, children need regular opportunities to grow, as well. And they can’t grow if everything is taken care of for them. If they face a dilemma, let them work through it themselves instead of always jumping in to fix it.

When they have a big or difficult project to complete, let them do it themselves. Even if it doesn’t go as they had hoped or they don’t do as well as they (or you) would have liked, don’t bail them out. Let them learn from the experience. That is what helps them prepare for even bigger challenges and tasks and opportunities later in life.

 

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6. Let your children make mistakes and fail sometimes.

Going along with what I said above, as long as they are not in any physical danger and there won’t be catastrophic consequences, just let your kids do things their own way, and if something goes wrong or even flops completely, just support them and encourage them and tell them to try again. Fortunately, the things they are working on and the problems they are solving aren’t (probably :)) world-changing, so if something goes awry, they can learn from the experience and do better next time.

 

7. Consider paying your children for some of their efforts so that they can see the connection between work and monetary rewards.

Another way that you can encourage your kids to work hard, if you choose to, is by paying them a modest wage for the chores that they do. I know that the topic of paying your children for doing chores or getting good grades is one of considerable debate. We haven’t started paying commissions (the term we like to use instead of allowance—taken from Dave Ramsey) yet, but I think there’s a good chance that we will once our children are a little older.

I definitely like the idea of teaching the correlation between work and monetary compensation, and I don’t want our children to think they’re on the family dole by just getting money for toys and things because they breathe, so it feels like a good approach. But we’ll see how it goes when we get to that bridge. And same with paying children for earning good grades.

My parents did do that some of the time with us, and I think for some of my siblings it probably did encourage them to put in more effort than they otherwise would have. I’m the type that worked to get straight A’s regardless, so for me I don’t know that it made much of a difference—but the extra money was nice. 🙂

If you’re on the fence, maybe give it a try and see how it goes. You can always change your mind or adjust your approach later—nothing is set in stone. But whether you do or don’t pay commissions, do teach your children the very real connection between hard work and dedicated effort and financial compensation.

If you do pay your children for their work, make sure you teach them how to budget (well, either way, you need to teach them how to budget!) so that they will learn how to spend their money wisely and save up for larger purchases and just overall manage their money well.

 

8. Work together with your children on bigger projects that require a lot of effort to complete.

When they are old enough, another great effort you can make to teach your kids to work hard is to find projects that you can work on together that will take several hours or even days or weeks to complete.

Maybe that’s cleaning and reorganizing the garage. Maybe it’s building a clubhouse in the backyard. Maybe it’s finishing or remodeling the basement. Maybe it’s working on a fixer-upper car or boat or motorcycle. Maybe it’s cleaning out Grandma and Grandpa’s house, or remodeling it. It could be planting and harvesting a garden. It doesn’t really matter what it is—what matters is that it takes dedicated, consistent effort for long periods of time.

 

9. Work together on service projects as another way to teach your kids to work hard.

Similarly, teach your children the importance of working hard not only for themselves and for more perhaps self-serving reasons but also teach your kids to work hard as they help other people and give back to the community in small and even big ways.

Especially as your children get older, consider volunteering as a family once a week or once a month at a soup kitchen or in a community garden or at a hospital or care facility for the elderly. If you have the ability, consider volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and helping to build homes, or volunteer at a local pet shelter. The opportunities to serve are endless.

 

10. Find ways to make work fun.

As you are doing all of these wonderful things to help grow your children’s character, don’t forget that kids are still kids, and especially when they are younger (though aren’t most of us still kids at heart?), find ways to make work fun.

It could mean singing as you work, if your family enjoys doing that—or telling each other stories. It might mean finding ways to play little games or do little competitions while you work, with a possible reward at the end. So it might be offering a reward to whoever fills up the most bags with trash or grows the biggest pile of clutter.

So you could reward everyone by going to ice cream after the activity, but then the winner of the competition might get a shake instead of an ice cream cone or sundae, for example. Or maybe after finishing a project that takes several hours you go out for dessert or an inexpensive movie together. Or maybe you go to the park and have a picnic or go to a splash pad after a Saturday morning of hard work.

 

11. Praise and appropriately reward their efforts to encourage more diligence in the future.

If you want to teach your kids to work hard, then praise them when they do! Children (and adults too!) love honest, sincere praise and encouragement. I regularly tell my children how amazing they are for just being them—but I also slather on compliments for the things they are able to accomplish. I don’t think this will cause an ego problem at all or hurt them in the least.

There are enough things in the world that try to drag our children down that we need to consistently work to build them up. As long as you teach them the importance of being humble through example and through coaching them and guiding them during teachable moments, you won’t have to worry that that praise will give them a big head when they’re older. And by giving them praise, they will have the incentive to continue to try and to do their best to succeed and to act in the ways that you would like them to.

 

12. Limit the amount of media time that your children have.

Another important aspect of teaching kids to work hard is to limit their screen time (both TV screens and phone screens). You’ve probably heard the scary statistic that most people watch seven or more hours of TV a day. And maybe you’ve heard the correlation between time spent watching TV and violent behavior in children.  The same goes for playing video games—especially violent ones.

Our general rule is that if our children pick up their toys and help straighten up and get their preschool work done, then they can watch one animated move or group of shows (since we often get the DVDs we watch from the library, they generally have a set of four or five short episodes together on the same disc) a day. And every once in a while we let them watch two. But I can’t really imagine letting your children consistently watch four or six or more hours of TV a day. There are so many better things to do in life—even in their young lives! 🙂

 

Conclusion

Teaching children to work hard is so important. It’s one of our most important tasks as parents if we want our children to really be successful in life and not just kind of drift through life or, worse yet, be a drag on society.

And there are so many ways that we can teach our children the importance of hard work—through being good examples to them of hard work, giving them chores and projects to do at home, teaching them to be diligent in their studies and practice hard at sports or with musical instruments, helping them to serve others, and more.

Don’t let them be lazy and don’t let them give up. Don’t let them just play video games or watch TV all day. Life is so much better than that and there are so many more meaningful things that they could be doing with their precious time. So help them do them!

 

What have you tried to do to teach your children how to work hard? What methods or motivations or rewards have worked best for you? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to hear your ideas!

 

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