Part of parenting involves helping our children with their perennial problems and flaws, on top of our own flaws. One area that is a constant work-in-progress is developing work ethic in our children (and ourselves). How can we encourage good work ethic in our children?
What is Work Ethic?
Research by University of Minnesota has shown that establishing a strong work ethic early in childhood is a predictor of adult success. Work ethic is demonstrating perseverance, commitment to tasks and responsibilities, self-discipline, good frustration tolerance, being a good team player and effective. This means being a dependable, committed, productive person.
Isn’t everyone working on such traits all the time? Therefore, it is important to start early as a good work ethic prepares one better in the face of challenges. With Singapore being such a competitive society, a work ethic is key to helping the child develop good attitudes and a positive learning disposition to continue the long-term pursuit of knowledge and excellence.
Five Ways to Encourage Good Work Ethic in Our Children
1. Walk the Talk
The best way to show our children what good work ethic is, aside from talking about it and bringing up role models and examples, is to walk the talk! Show it and be a good worker – whether employee or employer regardless of profession.
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We demonstrate our beliefs and values best in our lives. Practising what we preach is the best way to encourage good work ethic in our children
2. Focusing on Character-building and Life skills
Look past academic grades and focus on life skills instead. Let your child discover skills their would like to work on, give them time to expand the skills and encourage them to do. At the same time, give them more age-appropriate responsibilities such as chores.
Getting along with others, cooperating on tasks, learning a skill and honing it, committing to practise and persevering are ways to build character and learn life skills. Encourage your child to set little goals as well while acquiring a skill – whether it’s a musical instrument or learning to cook. He or she can set goals for self-motivation.
3. Stop rescuing your child
Failure is not the end, in fact it marks a milestone in the journey of learning. Don’t pick your child up instantly once there is a fall or failure. Instead, acknowledge the emotions and encourage the child to learn from the experience, improve, change and adapt. Support them in their efforts and acknowledge their little progresses, they will need to own their successes (and failures).
Let your child learn to reap consequences and be disciplined when efforts fall short or folly overrides wisdom. This helps to develop a sense of responsibility from a young age.
4. Volunteering and Serving Others
Volunteer as a family to let your child know there are segments of society who need help, especially from those in positions of privilege. This is also one way to serve others, and know our actions can be of value to others.
We can start with serving one another in the home, in our religious organisations and our community. Try these suggestions.
5. Work Hard, Play Hard
Adopt a “work hard, play hard” mantra so that it’s not all dull and dreary. Playing is not fruitless, but an essential part of development. Free play helps build character, especially in outdoor play and social settings. Give your child space both in time and physical space to expend their energy, hone their hobbies and play just as a child should. This can also help the child to develop character – from socialising at the playground, overcoming obstacles in the park, caring for siblings and friends.
They would also place equal value of both, and be rewarded with the fulfilment of hard work as well as a good time after a season of tough gritty work.
“Hard work spotlights the character of people, some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses and some don’t turn up at all.”
Teach your child the value of good work ethic for that is a precious asset that will support your child through life’s ups and downs. Even when the odds are against us, we will make the best with our effort.