Teaching Children Work Ethics

A child's behavior patterns begin at home - including their work ethics. It’s important to teach your kids that nothing in life is free and that one must work to earn what they need and want.

Many historians feel that one of Winston Churchill’s greatest speeches was given at a graduation ceremony at Oxford University. He had worked on the speech for hours. When the moment finally came, Churchill stood up to the cheering crowd, and in a strong, clear voice shouted just three words, “Never give up!” He paused a few seconds and shouted the words again, “Never give up!” He then reached for his hat and slowly walked off the podium, satisfied that he had told the graduates the message they needed to succeed.

We need to make sure we pass on Churchill’s message to our own children. Only when children realize that success comes from hard work and diligence will they be the best they can be.

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The following five techniques are designed to boost children’s work ethic and help them understand how critical perseverance is to achieving success.

1. Define “perseverance.”

Take time to explain that perseverance means “not giving up” or “hanging in there until you complete the task you started.” When your child sticks to a task, point it out: “There’s perseverance for you. You hung in there with your work even though it was hard.”

2. Teach “don’t give up” words.

Help your child tune in to the language of persevering individuals so that he can learn to use the terms in his own life.
Ask, “What are the kinds of things you hear people who ‘don’t give up’ say?”

Write a list of phrases, such as:

  • “I can do it!”
  • “I’ll try again”
  • “Don’t give up!”
  • “I won’t quit”
  • “Hang in there. Don’t stop!”
  • “It’s usually harder at the beginning”
  • “You’re almost there! Try again”
  • “You’ll get it. Keep at it!”
  • “The more you practice, the easier it will be”
  • “Keep it up–don’t stop!”

Hang up a poster; encourage everyone to say at least one phrase a day. The more you repeat those phrases the more likely your child will be to adopt them for his self-talk.

3. Model effort and a strong work ethic.

Take a pledge, especially this month, to show your child how you don’t give up on a task even when things get difficult. Before starting a new task, make sure your child overhears you say: “I’m going to persevere until I am successful” Modeling the trait is always the number one teaching method.

4. Start a family, “Never give up!” motto.

Begin using the family motto, “Don’t quit until you succeed.” One father believed that conveying this life message to his children was so important that they spent an afternoon together brainstorming family anthems about perseverance such as:

  • “Try, try, and try again and then you will win”
  • “In this family, we finish what we start”
  • “Quitters never win”

These can be written on index cards, and your kids can tape them on their bedroom walls. Develop your own family slogans as a reminder that your family code of behavior is to never give up.

5. Create a “Stick to It” award.

Ask your child to help you find a stick at least the length of a ruler to acknowledge stick-to-itness. A broomstick or a yardstick can be used.  Print “Stick to It Award” across the stick with a black marker. Then tell everyone to be on alert for family members showing special determination for the next month. Each night have a family gathering to announce the names of family members who didn’t give up, and print their initials on the marker. Make sure to tell the recipients exactly what they did to deserve the award. Make it a contest to see how long it takes to fill the stick with family members’ initials. Children love to count how often their initials appear on the stick!

If you ‘stick to it’ ~ you’ll watch your kids’ work ethic grow
with them, inch by inch! Good luck!


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