Children often learn early in life that work is important, at school and at home, but as they get older it gets more complicated. It also becomes more important to instill good habits in them, not just with the rules you enforce but with the concepts you teach and the behaviors you model. Here are some ways to help your teen develop a strong work ethic as they grow older and prepare for adulthood.
Encourage them when they are working hard, regardless of outcome
Focus on your child putting forth their best effort, not just the results of their work! Take the time to speak life into them as they try new things and genuinely throw themselves into whatever they are working on. Even if they don’t get the job they wanted or the grade they were hoping for, try to bring your focus back to encouraging their hard work. There is no way to always control the outcome of hard work to make it what we want, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing! There are many areas of life where there is no clear “reward,” but it is still important to work hard at them. These things include housework, relationships, and volunteer positions, all of which are very important to a well-rounded Christian life.
Let them experience the positive results of hard work
Try to expand your focus beyond the academic, including choices they make when it comes to hobbies, volunteering, and their jobs. While working hard at school is crucial, it is important they learn that a good work ethic is important for life far beyond the walls of their school. Let them experience the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a completed craft or a well-played game, and the joy that comes with helping others in their community. In addition, if they don’t already have a job, consider encouraging them to get a part-time job for afternoons or weekends where they can earn their own paychecks. These rewards will help them remember why a work ethic is important, and why it is worth all the extra effort they put in even if they don’t see the same in their peers.
Model a good work ethic, and give them opportunities to see it
Try taking your child with you to volunteer opportunities or to see you hard at work so they can watch it being modeled for them. By modeling a good work ethic, you will show your child how hard work benefits people and why it is something worth pursuing. Make sure they have opportunities to see you actually working. Although they may logically understand that you do work every day, whether at a job or at home, it’s unlikely they truly understand what that means. Try to let them see your work ethic and engage with you as you display it to make the concept stick.
Now, you are prepared to help your teen develop a strong work ethic!