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Teach Your Child to Work Hard Without Complaining

Work needs to be done whether we like it or not! Much of life hinges on our willingness to work and work hard. Teaching your child to work without complaining is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

Parents have more influence on their child’s capacity for work than they might realize. As in many other aspects of parenting, the example you set will be the standard your child embraces. Being a willing and cheerful worker will show your child that work is not just something they must do, but something they want to do.

Preschool

Preschoolers are quite easy to convince that work is fun. Making a game of picking up playthings and tossing clothes in a hamper will help your child form a positive association with necessary tasks.

Having your youngster choose their own chore will also create enthusiasm for doing it. Perhaps placing napkins on the table, feeding a pet or helping to fold clothes is enough. Celebrate each small contribution to the family good by saying, “Good job! You did it!”

Young children love to do things with Mom and Dad. Washing the car may take longer if your toddler helps, but the work ethic of caring for what you have will be instilled.

Rewards for jobs do not have to be tangible, but some of them should be. A coin for the piggy bank, an extra book at bedtime or a great big smile will bring the message home that what they do is appreciated and important.

Main points to address:

  • Make work fun.
  • Work with your child so they have an example of quality work and willingness.
  • Reward your child with praise and (occasionally) small tokens.

Grades K-3rd

Young school age children are ready for more complex jobs. Most 5 and 6 year olds can follow directions in order to complete a multi-step task. School reinforces the work ethic as everyone is expected to do their job.

Having your youngster take care of their own clothes, clear their own plate and pick up toys and books should be a matter of routine. Not deviating from set ways of running the household will help your child approach tasks consistently.

It is important to let kids know how vital they are to the family. Tackling tough jobs together can show your child the benefits of not giving up until the work is clearly finished. A family garden is a lot of work, but has obvious rewards at harvest time!

Kids this age need frequent breaks. Have a glass of lemonade together and then get back to work. Celebrate a finished job by taking a walk in the park or baking a cake together.

This is a good time to involve your child in a team sport or group activity where others are dependent on their participation. Doing their part while encouraging team mates will teach your child to help others do their best without complaining.

Again, rewards for set chores can be given to help your youngster know the value of a job well done.

Main points to address:

  • Young school age children are ready for more complex tasks, but still need adult presence and encouragement.
  • Take short but frequent breaks during longer tasks.
  • A family project, such as a garden, has built in rewards.
  • Participating in team sports can teach your child to try their best without complaining.

Grades 4-6th

Older children can do many chores independently and well. But children this age will often volunteer to do jobs they are not ready for. Take these opportunities to work with them and teach as you go. A little praise will go a long way, as your child is already becoming aware of what “a job well done” is.

Receiving rewards remains important. Of course many self-care and assigned chores should be done just because they are necessary. But some tasks, particularly those that may be time or effort intensive need to have a clear reward at completion.

One counter to complaining about a particular job is to assign a second job to the complainer. Another way, which actually can be fun, is to charge any complainer (Mom and Dad included!) a set amount for each complaint. Watch the complaints diminish!

You will need to continue “whistling while you work” if you want your child to remain a willing worker. They may visit homes where work is not cheerfully done. Hold the family value of shared responsibility and helpfulness before them. It will become their standard!

Main points to address:

  • Continue to guide your child as they attempt more complex tasks.
  • Reward selected tasks.
  • Counter complaints by applying a consequence for all family members.
  • You are still your child’s best example of willingness and helpfulness.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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