Learning to Love Work

Do you have trouble getting your kids to buckle down when there are chores to be done? Here are a few tips on how to help your children learn to enjoy work.

With all the distractions available to kids today, it can be a challenge to settle them into doing work around the home. For most families, each family member needs to pitch in, as they are able. And learning to work in this way sets a pattern that will be invaluable as the young grow up and enter the workforce.

First, and perhaps most important, set a good example yourself. Young people learn how to approach work by watching the adults around them. If you are constantly complaining about the work you “have to do,” don’t be surprised if your kids follow in your footsteps. The parent who states, “I hate housework!” will raise kids who hate housework, too.

Next, teach them that work brings material rewards. Instead of giving them an allowance, or in addition to a base amount that remains stable, set up specific daily and weekly jobs and a fair pay system, with small raises for improved performance. If money is an obstacle, how about a special time with you, reading or playing – something of far greater value to a child than money.

Even very young children can be helpful and they love earning this way. In addition to building an appreciation for work, you are also building their self-esteem and attaching positive emotion to their memory of accomplishment. One thing to remember: Avoid punishing a child with special household tasks. It’s almost guaranteed to create a negative attitude toward work.

Finally, praise even imperfect efforts before you point out any need for improvement. It is in the trying that we learn, in the attempts to take on more responsibility that we grow.

If you remember the rule that says give three pats on the back for every single criticism, you’ll be helping your kids see work not only as a way to earn a living, but also as a way to feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. (And future employers will thank you for it.)