Parents have the all-important task of instilling in their children those character traits that will help them to become decent, successful adults. One of the most important things parents can teach their children is the value of hard work. Sometimes, however, the effort it takes to get children to do work seems like more trouble than it's worth.

In the struggle to encourage kids to work, many parents become frustrated by the constant resistance they face. It seems easier just to do the work themselves, in spite of what their children might lose in the process.

Following are some things that, if avoided, will help keep your children from seeing work as a negative and establish in them a strong and willing work ethic.

1. Don't use work as a punishment

If your child is always given a job to do as a punishment, he will develop negative associations with work. Work will become something to avoid and it will be that much more difficult to get him to work in the future.

This does not mean that you should not be firm regarding finishing the tasks you have assigned your child. You can enforce consequences when your child doesn't get his work done, such as not letting him go outside to play. But the job should never be used to punish bad behavior.

2. Don't put it off

Start when your children are young and eager to help. Allowing your young children to help with tasks that you can do much more quickly and effectively takes patience, but it will pay off later. As they get older they will need less supervision and eventually you will have children that can work independently and efficiently on almost any job that needs to be done.

3. Don't have unreasonable expectations

If you expect your three-year-old to make her bed and vacuum her bedroom floor all by herself, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Assigning a job that is too complex or difficult will discourage your child from learning.

  • You need to be aware of the abilities of your children and what tasks are compatible with their development.

  • Be patient with them as you teach them how to do various tasks.

  • Break larger chores into smaller steps: tell your child to pick up his toys, then his clothing, and then make his bed, rather than just assigning him to clean his room.

This will prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. Help them when they are young so they develop good work habits. Understand that it takes time, practice, and assistance to learn how to work. Make the work as easy as possible while still expecting a job well done.

4. Don't label your children as lazy

Your children believe what you tell them. If you tell your children they are lazy, chances are they will become so. Instead, try giving your children fun names that encourage industry and action, such as Get it done Dan or Quick Katie.

Tell them often what qualities you like about them and praise them whenever they work hard or accomplish something. They will learn to live up to your characterization of them.

One of the most valuable things you can give your child is a strong work ethic. Remember to never use work as a punishment, start teaching your children while they are young, keep your expectations reasonable and encourage them along the way.

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