6 Ways to Teach Your Kids a Good Work Ethic

good work ethic

I have tried to teach my children to have a good work ethic, though I haven’t always succeeded: witness the clothes thrown on the floor, the unfinished homework, and the dishes left on the couch in the family room. So I probably looked a little shocked when my teenage son’s boss told me that my son was a hard worker! Music to this mother’s ears.

Why do I want my kids to be hard workers and have a good work ethic? Kids who are hard workers have the ability to reach their full potential. Here are 6 ways to teach your kids a good work ethic.

1. Create opportunities for your kids to work young and often.

Start with small chores for little ones and move up to more demanding responsibilities as they grow.

2. Don’t hire away all the tough jobs.

The trend in suburban America to hire housekeepers, yardmen, etc. may be robbing our kids of all the traditional opportunities to learn to work. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the actual skills they’re using (cutting grass) won’t benefit them later (after all, he’s going to be a surgeon, right?). Learning to get up and do what needs doing, no matter what it is, is important to their future success.

3. Treat their studies as a work ethic training ground.

Basically, school is your children’s job. It is an excellent environment for developing a work ethic that will serve them well later in life.

4. Let them suffer the consequences of failing to work hard.

The earlier you do this, the less painful and the more productive it will be. If the penalty for not doing your chores is not getting an allowance or not having friends over—don’t cave in. If the penalty for not turning your book report in on time is a bad grade, let them suffer the consequence.

5. Model a consistent work ethic in your own life.

No need to elaborate here because moms are always working hard! Know that your kids watch everything you do, including your work ethic. Here are 9 other areas they watch.

6. Treat having a work ethic as an element of character, which it is.

Having a strong work ethic makes a person trustworthy. Impress upon your kids that it’s important to be dependable in both their career and their relationships. A work ethic is very much an element of their character.


Tell us! In what ways have you taught your child good work ethic?


  • Great tips, especially the idea of modeling the values and behavior we want to see in our youngsters. And doing work involves not only the “paid for” kind but also the unpaid volunteering services we can offer at any age!

  • Kris

    I try & do all of the above! Sometimes it’s hard to see your children struggle but I know that by teaching them that if they really want something they have to work hard for it (whether it be good grades, sports, dance) & even then u may not get it but If you continue do the best u can – eventually great things will happen. It may not be what u had your heart set on but doors will open that you didn’t know existed. It’s the experiences (good or bad), the hard work & the determination along the way that make you who you are. Everything you go thru in life happens for a reason to get u to where u are – listen & learn to life’s lessons – you will stumble & fall & you will have great moments – in the end its all about the journey we take to get there! 🙂

  • Helen

    I agree with this! I always remember my dad saying to me as a teenager – you do things right the first time, every time or no matter the job – you do the best job you possibly can – always go the extra mile! Thanks Dad!

  • Elda

    My daughter started helping me when she was only 4 years old – she would pair the white socks when it came out of the dryer. Almost 7 now, she would help with dinner by washing the vegetables and/or setting the table. She can’t wait to be 8 because I promised her I would teach her how to cook.