“Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift. That power to work is a blessing. That love of work is success,” David O McKay.
I love this quote because it shows us how important hard work is in our lives. It also helps us understand how important teaching our kids the value of hard work should be in our daily lives.
Hard work seems to be a declining value in our society. It is ironic because this country was founded on the ideal of working hard to get what you want in life. This country began with people that were industrious and driven to succeed.
Disclaimer: Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there are no hard workers in this country anymore. I am just saying that it seems to not be as high of a priority as it used to be.
So where has our modern society gone wrong in this value?
Sometimes I feel like my generation (or maybe my parents) worked so hard to give their kids everything they didn’t have, that they didn’t teach them to work for it themselves. There is something to be said for making your own way or working hard to accomplish a goal. If we give our kids everything they need and want, without working for at least part of it, we are doing them a disservice.
So how do we teach our kids to appreciate the value of hard work?
Lead By Example
Kids follow the example of their parents. They watch you even if you don’t notice. If they see Dad carrying big loads of wood, they hope that they will be strong and able to do that when they get bigger. Work beside your kids when they are young and let them help, even in small ways. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just do things ourselves, but patience when they are young will pay off in the long run. When they get older, show them how things should be done properly to get the job done. Don’t underestimate your influence on their attitude and expectations.
Give Them Chores
Chores are important for kids to learn how to do household tasks and be productive in the family. Whether or not you pay them for the chores is a discussion for another post, but the chores themselves will teach responsibility and ownership. For homesteaders, there are always chores that need to be done, and by letting the kids be a part of that they are contributing to the running of the household.
Encourage Industry and Entrepreneurship
Some kids are naturally industrious and inventive. If you can encourage that side of them, they will take off. When kids are interested in something, they are more willing to work hard to see it through. They will work hard to build a treehouse or start a lemonade stand. Whatever their idea may be, try to foster that drive to innovate. There is no telling where their hard work and new ideas will take them.
Don’t Put Limits On Them
We have all heard stories from our grandparents of the hard work they had to do as a kid. During the great depression, kids did whatever was necessary to help keep everyone in their family fed. Nowadays, it seems like parents don’t want to give their kids this opportunity. Now, I’m not saying you should make your 10 year old get a job in a mine or whatever. But don’t put limits on their abilities to accomplish a task. The bigger the job, the more accomplishment and satisfaction they will have when it is completed. If you have high expectations, most likely they will be met or exceeded in amazing ways.
Let Them Take The Natural Consequences When They Don’t Work
School is a perfect example of letting your children feel the natural consequences of not working. When they don’t do their homework, they should be given a bad grade or reprimanded by the teacher. If it becomes a pattern, often a parent will be called in for a conference. Lately, it has been the custom for the parent to explain away the child’s behavior so they won’t “get in trouble”. This only teaches the child that they don’t have to do the work and they can still get away with it. In contrast, the parent needs to let the natural consequences come for lack of effort. Let the child feel the hurt or disappointment for not doing their homework. If you shield them from the consequences when they are young, they will have to learn a harder lesson when they are in “the real world” later in life.
Praise Them For A Job Well Done
I saved this one for last because it is my favorite. Praise to a child for a job well done will do wonders for their attitude about work in the future. Now this doesn’t mean that you make a big deal out of every little thing they do. But when they accomplish a task (especially if you didn’t have to bribe or beg them to do it) you should let them know how happy and thankful you are for their hard work. Positive reinforcement of good behavior is always the best way to go.
As homesteaders, there are many tasks that need to be done each day to keep things running properly. Homesteading is a back to basics movement that lends itself to hard work and thankless jobs. By learning how to care for animals, cook, clean, care for siblings and mend broken fences, our children will be years ahead of their modern counterparts. That is a good thing! One of the reasons we started homesteading was to help our family learn how to become self-reliant and how to work hard to get what you want. If we can teach our children how to work when they are young, it will be a valuable skill they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
How do you teach your kids the value of hard work? Please leave us a comment below. Thanks!
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