We all have to work. That is most of us do if we want shelter, food, and clothing. I was talking to a group of women about work… our attitude about working, the benefits of working, and about teaching children how to work. We had a lively discussion about ways to help children learn a good work ethic and some very innovative methods were mentioned. I thought it was worth sharing them.

It’s never too early to start-even very young children can contribute to the household chores in some small way. Just a warning: although you expect your children to do their best, their best may not be up to your standards. You may have to adjust your expectations. If you criticize or redo their work, they will be discouraged and may just stop trying.

Make it fun. The word chore sounds like, well, a drag. You don’t have to make work = drag. Work can be fun. A lot of it has to do with our attitude. What’s your attitude about work? There’s a good chance your children are listening and watching.

A family is a unit and family members are part of a team. Children can resent it when they are told to do chores and then left to do them on their own. Working together can make the time pass quickly and get the work done faster.

Several women mentioned turning chores into a game. When a clean-up job becomes a contest to see how many items can be picked up before the commercial ends or who can finish first, work becomes fun.

Most of us work better under a little pressure. If you set a time limit, children can feel a sense of urgency and will put more effort into finishing the job in the allotted time. A timer can be useful here. For older children setting a finishing time in the near future can give them a little flexibility and control about when they will do the job and they won’t feel like they are being made to do-it-now, with no consideration of what they had planned for their time.

If you provide motivation, it might make the whole chore process easier- a spoonful of sugar, and all that. It doesn’t have to be money. You might offer the kids a craft, game, story, or activity once the work is finished. A family who works and plays together stays together.

What ways have you used to teach your children a solid work ethic?

P.S. We certainly don’t encourage you to make everything about money. Children should participate in household duties just because they are part of a family. There is work that needs to be done and as members of a family, we all should work together to make sure that the jobs are completed. We share responsibilities and the benefits of being part of a family.