How to Build a Strong Work Ethic in Your Kids

Today is my first son’s first day at his first job.

Josh is rarin’ to go, but pauses for a hug and a blessing before he leaves. It’s a simple but physically demanding job – unloading big brown trucks from a well-known delivery service. After years of sports and workouts, Josh is equipped to handle the muscle power.

But only time will tell if Josh has everything else it takes to succeed on this and all the jobs to come, to sustain his academic momentum in college, and eventually to provide for a family.

While today marks a rite of passage for Josh, it doesn’t stand in isolation. It’s the day his dad and I have been preparing him for since we first taught him to pick up his clothes, to crush the cans for recycling, or to vacuum out the car. It’s what it was all about when we gritted our teeth and took the extra time to make him do something when we could have done it faster and better ourselves.

It’s the real life test of our everyday efforts to raise children with a work ethic.

Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. In today’s culture of plenty, parents who place a premium on teaching children to work may find themselves going against the flow.

The good news is that the flow may be turning. According to a Time magazine poll, 80 percent of Americans think children today are more spoiled than children 10 or 15 years ago, and 75 percent think children today do fewer chores.

Dr. Ruth Peters, a psychology contributor to NBC’s Today show and author of Overcoming Underachieving (Broadway), says: “Daily in my practice I see parents who have made the mistake of not taking the time and attention to teach their children to be workers and achievers. These kids have learned to settle for less rather than to face and challenge adversity, to become whiners rather than creative problem solvers, and to blame others for perceived slights and lack of success.”

The ability to work hard, to tolerate frustration, and to take responsibility doesn’t just happen without a push from parents. To get your children off to the best start, here are seven guidelines:

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Source: Crosswalk | Barbara Curtis

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