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                Parenting Basics 101

                                    Learn how to be a better parent using tried and true methods

Parenting Blog

I post here from time to time as issues come up, or in response to parent feedback and questions

Parenting Blog

Teaching Tools: Building a Work Ethic

Posted by Dave on November 26, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Part of your job as a parent is to help your children build, feel, and understand the internal payoffs that will help them be successful throughout life. One of the most important is a strong work ethic.


Families can teach the social value of hard work by giving their kids household chores from an early age. Even a four year old can help set the table for dinner. Regular unpaid family chores should be part of every child’s schedule, increasing in complexity and length as they get older.


It’s important chores be unpaid for two reasons: pay distracts from the ultimate goal of learning self-satisfaction from one’s own efforts, and it undermines the sense of duty to contribute to the family. The primary payoffs should be the satisfaction of having done a good job, and a simple acknowledgement from their parents for having done what’s expected of them.


The payoffs should be mostly internal. Kids need to learn their efforts are valued, but effusive praise of the sort we hear so often is actually counterproductive. Kids become quickly addicted to over-the-top praise, and they will seldom get it in college or at work.


Or course, older kids DO need to earn money, but they should be encouraged to look for work outside the family. If that’s not practical, you might offer pay for specific one-off tasks that wouldn’t be generally considered a family chore. Family-owned businesses also offer opportunities to earn, assuming no age restrictions apply. Every kid is different, but generally by age fourteen they should be capable of part time employment. Depending on your state’s laws, fourteen year olds can generally bag groceries, operate a cash register, and bus tables with very limited work hours. School permission in the form of a work permit is generally required to protect struggling students’ study time.

Categories: Teaching Tools