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Teaching children the value of hard work
Having a good work ethic, taking pride in the fruit of your labor and enjoying the rewards that come with it are values deeply instilled in our families. As parents, it is important for us to teach these values to our young children.
This summer, my husband and I set the goal to teach our 9-, 8- and 5-year-old boys the value of hard work. They had been helping for some years with small chores such as picking up toys and taking out the trash, but we realized the two older ones now had the skills to tackle more challenging tasks such as doing the dishes, folding clothes or mowing the lawn. Now that the summer is almost over, after some broken dishes and a few blisters on our fingers, here some of the lessons learned over the past few months.
• Talk to your child about your work. Work allows us to feel respected and self-reliant.
Share with your child what you do at work or even better take him with you and let him see you interact with your co-workers. Child psychologists recommend that parents share their experiences with work outside the home and talk about the personal benefits of working well. Talk about your successes at work and the personal satisfaction of performing well. When you get a raise or a bonus, talk about it with your children. Let them know there are internal and external rewards for a job well done (Parker, W.)
My oldest son David comes to my classroom once a semester when we cover the chapter on human development. He does a presentation on his favorite subject at the time such as the solar system or reptiles. David has enjoyed seeing what a college teacher does. Meanwhile, his presence has helped me illustrate some cognitive developmental concepts to my students.
• Give responsibility and rewards. Work entitles us to an honest earthly reward.
Tell your kids you go to work so you can pay for food and other needs in the home. Explain that you have a certain amount of money to spend based on your earnings. If you want something that isn't in the budget, you have to save up for it. (Macines, C.) Find ways to reward your children with special outings or a weekly allowance when they have been responsible with their chores. Our children have learned that going out to eat to their favorite restaurants is a treat that they need to earn.
Giving your children an allowance can be a great opportunity to teach children the value of money. They can learn to save their money when they want a bigger or more expensive item. My middle son Eliú quickly learned to do comparison shopping when he realized that there is a limited amount of money he gets every week.
• Coach your children. Work affords us the joy of helping others.
It is not realistic to post a list of chores and expect your children to successfully accomplish them. I have learned that I need to work alongside with them. Parents need to model the behaviors they want to see in their kids and coach them as they learn them. This summer, we learned how to wash dishes without breaking them and the importance of wearing gloves to avoid blisters when raking the leaves in the backyard. Children need to see what a job well done looks like and how their hard work is helping everybody in the family. Let them know how their help makes a difference in your schedule and allows you to spend time with them.
• Enjoy the outcomes of their hard effort. Work leads to a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
During Labor Day weekend, in honor of the occasion, we decided to reorganize their playroom. Our goal was to open up the room and make it more available to the kids. We took it as a family project. The plan was for the adults to rearrange furniture and paint a wall. The children would sort out toys; throw away what was broken and donate what was not being used anymore.
It was challenging to get everyone focused and sometimes it felt like we were pulling teeth. Digging for toys and agreeing on what was going and what was staying was more difficult than I had anticipated. I was proud to see the goal was successfully accomplished but even more satisfied to see them enjoying their “new” room. My 5-year-old Batman, Isaac, actually sits in the room to draw and color, and that alone is a big accomplishment! Isaac and David both want to claim ownership of the room. A new challenge for this mom will be to now teach them the value of sharing.
Dubia Zaragoza is an associate faculty in the Business and Liberal Arts Division at Arizona Western College. She can be reached at email@example.com.