Following the monetary theme of the month, it makes perfect sense that we should also consider the value of teaching our children a good work ethic and the value of a job well done.
There are several criteria used to define what a “good job” is. It is not just about completing a task but also about the spirit of willingness and the quality of the job done. Psychologists always emphasise the need for personal growth - we all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution to the society in which we live. And in my humble opinion, the best way to do that is to work, add value.
You might think your child is too young. But children are usually more capable than we think. Children can do a lot of household chores at an early age and it is usually fun for them too. For example, laying the table for dinner or cleaning up after a meal. I remember my own mother turned setting the table for dinner into a bonding ritual.
My sisters and I took turns and we would share the high and low moments of that day while we laid the table with her. Eavesdropping was not allowed so it was a really special moment and the task at hand was a great icebreaker for the more awkward conversations between mother and daughter.
The enjoyment of doing something with the parent, the familiar habit of the weekly shopping trip or the feeling of mastery in participating in “adult” activities and taking on responsibilities provide sufficient meaning and motivation for young children.
The chores I did as a child were not all pleasant but I know for a fact that those I did together with a parent, especially those I did when I was much younger, were more pleasurable.
Show children what to do and they will learn. Get involved in the task and show them how to do the chore step by step. Next, let your child help you do it. Then have your child do the chore as you supervise.
Once you see that they have learned and can do it on their own, try entrusting them with that responsibility to see how well they deliver.
Perhaps a quick tip: Be specific with your instructions especially with the younger children. For example, say “take your plate to the kitchen” rather than “clear the dinner table” or “put your toys in the box” rather than “tidy your room”. Although your little boy or girl can still do minor chores, certain concepts may not be well formed yet.
The real task here is to try and nurture a positive attitude towards work in our children at an early age. It will not only enhance their opportunities but it will make them well-rounded individuals and team players in the workplace. In an age of capitalism and credit economies I do think it pays to leave a legacy of hard work and integrity.