This is a post in the series “Chores and Your Kids”. If you’d like to have all the posts in this series delivered to your email inbox, just enter your name and address after clicking on this secure link! Be sure to confirm your subscription.
Thanks for joining me for the Chores and Your Kids series! In the previous post, we talked about three reasons why your kids don’t want to do their chores. If you haven’t read that yet, what you learn may surprise you! I also shared three ways you can turn that attitude around!
I thought I’d expand a little on some of the ways that we teach our kids to take joy in their work. Many times in our current culture, hard work can seem to go unrewarded and laziness seems to be coddled and sadly, even encouraged. I don’t want my kids to grow up desiring immediate gratification or focusing only on themselves selfishly believing they should only do “whatever makes them happy”.
Interestingly enough, these three talking points I’m going to share are lessons that I actually learned in the classroom. Although there were a lot of things that I was taught in school that I thought were completely pointless (diagramming sentences being one of them–ha!), I found value in learning to work with my classmates, teammates and the people I worked with on school projects.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work quite this same way in my childhood home. My mom and dad were successful at having us do chores and living on a farm we did a lot of them! However, I always felt as though the connection was never really made between why this was going to help us as grown adults or how it applied to family life. Thus, I viewed all of my chores as complete drudgery and never wanted to really help out my brothers. I just wanted to get mine done and move on!
When my firstborn was about 2 1/2 years old, I started applying some of the principles that I’d learned in school about teamwork, responsibility, and service to others combined with the work ethic I was taught by my parents in my parenting.
Surprisingly, these principles found their way into the way my husband and I talk to our kids about helping out around the house and doing chores and the future-focused perspective we try to nurture in them through this teaching.
Although it may not seem like it, employers still value employees who have a strong work ethic and know how to cooperate with others in a productive way. I have heard this mentioned frequently over the past few years, both by business owners I know and those who are in the online world.
If you desire for your children to cultivate a good work ethic, starting in your home, I’d like to share three ways we can teach our kids to find joy in their work! Work does not have to be drudgery! Is it going to be fun ALL of the time? Probably not. But these three talking points can go a very long way in encouraging our children to see the value and reward in what they are doing to help around the house and how it strengthens our family bonds.
3 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Take Joy in Their Work
When we do chores and help out around the house, we are learning responsibility and how to take care of our possessions.
My 7 year old daughter and I disagree on the meaning of the words “cleaning your room”. In her mind, she thinks it means shoving everything under your bed in five minutes flat and then proclaiming proudly, “I’m done, Mom!” It makes me smile, and I love her enthusiasm at least! :)
We are working on teaching her that if she can keep things where they belong, it will be easier for her to find them or keep them from being broken and that perhaps her younger sister won’t get into things she’s not supposed to! We want to show our children (by example too) that taking care of possessions and being a good steward with what they’ve been given is a valuable skill to learn, and also biblical!
This applies to doing chores as well. When we put away our outdoor toys, it keeps them from getting blown away or rolling out into the street and getting run over. When we wash dishes, we don’t have piles stacked up and falling over.
Here’s a photo of our daughter a couple of years ago, after cleaning up with Mom’s help! ;)
Does that mean we expect perfection? Not at all. It’s a process to be sure. But I think that little reminders for our children in how we take care of what we own gets them in the mindset of not only taking care of our family’s possessions, but being a good steward with others’ possessions as well.
I love how 1 Kings 6 describes the great amount of care Solomon put into practice when building the temple. Every detail was accounted for so that it would be a place that brought glory to God! Obviously we are not quite like Solomon, but it’s an interesting way to apply the principle of caring for things and learning responsibility.
In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it. 1 Kings 6:38
When you do help out at home, you are learning how to serve others.
I heard somewhere once the phrase “to be a great leader you must first learn to be a servant”. I love that! But it is a life-long lesson to be learned!
The world tells us to do whatever we need to do to get ahead and serve ourselves. Scripture says the opposite!
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 NASB
How can we apply this scriptural principle in our own homes?
One idea is to teach our children how to go “above and beyond” in helping each other. Sometimes I will say to my kids, “Yes you may not have taken that toy out but please put it away for your sister to show preference.” Or, “Think how excited your brother will be to see that you helped by bringing his clean laundry to his room for him!”
We don’t have to do this is a forced way, but with an encouraging tone of voice (believe me, I have to work on my own attitude often!). I really do think this goes a long way, without expecting our kids to constantly clean up after each other. Cultivating this type of helping spirit can follow our children into adulthood so they can take joy in helping others!
When we help each other out around the house, we are learning the value of teamwork.
We often use the word “diligent” when referring to doing chores at home. Helping out at home is a great way to learn diligence and how to put teamwork into practice. We might say to the kids, “If we all work together to do such and such then we can go outside and play sooner!” Or, “Lets clean up the yard and then we can go have ice cream!”
Sometimes we may need to split our kids up to do specific parts of a team-building task. The ten year old can handle more complicated tasks than the four year old of course. (I’ll talk more about how you can walk your younger children through their chores step-by-step so they don’t get frustrated later in the series!)
Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4
Working as a team encourages family togetherness and helps our kids to take joy in their tasks when they see the results of a job well done. I certainly don’t want to make it sounds like our children always are super excited to do their chores or work together, because they often don’t see the benefits.
But I have to remind myself that I am looking long-term and that these principles, though they may take awhile to “stick”, are of great value to teach to our children.
It’s been fun to see that purposefully teaching teamwork in household chores has slowly been leading to them having longer moments (let’s be real, anything longer than two minutes is a success in this area!) of actually getting along together and playing nicely (as in the photo below), remembering that I am shooting for progress not perfection!
I hope these talking points can inspire some conversation in your own home with your kids as you talk about responsibility, teamwork and being a good steward of what we’ve been given!
If you want to dig a little deeper, I’ve written a series of devotionals with my friend Lindsey that covers this very topic of helping at home with an eternal perspective!
Filling Hearts While Cleaning Homes: Five Minute Devotionals for Families includes 20 beautifully designed devotional cards that describe how different household tasks reveal truths about God! It also includes several printables, child-safe cleaning recipes and a printable chore wheel to make cleaning up fun!