Teach a Lasting Work Ethic


Great work ethic is admirable and cherished by employers, but learning/teaching a work ethic is easier said than done. In 2012, Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist at The New Yorker, wrote an article titled “Spoiled Rotten.” She compares the practices of child rearing in other cultures and its effects of the child’s development. In large, children who grow up in non-American cultures have a better understanding of work ethic, responsibility, and self reliance.

A former Washington State principal believes parents have exceeded “helicopter parenting” and are now “jet-powered turbo attacks models” (Kolbert, 2012). Children and young adults are rarely motivated or self-starters, and it appears to correlate with their upbringing. Although this cannot relate to every child, parent, and individual, one small movement to establish an independent generation can impact those to come. If you struggle with telling your kids multiple times to complete a simple task, we have good new for you: you’re not alone and there is hope!

Dr. Peggy Drexler believes work ethic is taught or inherited. While her and husband were successful professionals, they did not feel pressure to instill a work ethic in their children. Drexler writes, “[Our son] was always the lemonade stand sort of kid, ever looking for a way to do work.” If you aren’t a lucky one whose children were born with drive and work ethic, teach them the value of accomplishment. Every task is not met with an allowance or toy but with the understanding of why it was necessary. If you have younger kids, work alongside them so they see your effort is equalling theirs, so they’re not only seeing a leader, but also someone who is not avoiding a task.

If you feel you’re only barking orders at your kids and never seeing results, focus on communication. Seeing an issue and only getting frustrated will not allow your kids to understand why their work is important. They are guaranteed to hate work at first (we all hated it), but after accomplishing a goal/task they will feel pride in it. Dave Ramsey writes, “Teaching a child to work is not child abuse.” Ramsey believes it shares the same importance as teaching them to brush their teeth and bathe. 

Being a family also means working together as a team. When a team member isn’t carrying their load, it’s difficult to share in the achievements of the other members. Work ethic is a skill your children will carry throughout their lives – making it one to truly value and invest in. They’ll hate it, we’ve all been there, but we all made it out and are thankful for the lessons we learned at a younger age.


Still feel like there’s more to learn on this topic? Read the articles below.

  • https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/07/02/spoiled-rotten
  • https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peggy-drexler/-can-work-ethic-be-learne_b_5436860.html
  • https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/performance-tips-developing-strong-work-ethic
  • https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/why-kids-need-value-hard-work