Teaching Your Kids to Work

By Joey and Carla Link
December 1, 2021

The colors of the trees in the fall are beautiful here in the Midwest and are a true reflection of the majesty of God’s artistry. But, as with most things they are also a lot of work. We have many trees in our yard and many trees mean many leaves that have to be raked. 

Yard work is a great way to teach kids how to work. I asked friends of ours if their teenage boys would be able to lend me a hand at cleaning up our yard. This included cleaning out the gutters on the roof and mowing down the bushes in the borders around the house. The boys had never done the dirty job of cleaning wet leaves and pine needles out of gutters before as they didn’t have trees in their yard, but they were willing to give it a try. I had spent many hours teaching the oldest kid baseball skills to sharpen his playing for his school team, so he was especially eager to help me.

They climbed the ladder to the roof with trowels in their hands and got to work. I was pleased with both their effort and their good attitude. When the kids were finished, I took them and their mother out for lunch. I asked Mom if I could do some teaching with the kids, and as she and her husband were alumni of the parenting classes we teach, she readily agreed.

I asked each of the boys which of them was the best worker that morning. Each of them had a different answer, and neither of them put themselves first. Their answers surprised each other and their mother. They did a good job of pointing out what each of them had done best.

I asked them to describe what I and their parents meant when we referred to something as “Good, Better or Best”. I wanted them to grade themselves on their work effort in each of these categories in both attitude and skill just as if they were in school. I shared Romans 12:3 with them as I asked them to do this:

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,but rather think of yourself with sober judgement.”

When your kids do their chores, as their parent, it is easy for you to grade their effort in your mind. Do you ever wonder what grade your kids (8 yrs. and up) would give themselves? Having them do this is a good way to teach them what “sober judgement” is. Our kids graded themselves in these areas:

·      Did they do the job completely?

·      Did they do the job the way they had been instructed to?

·      Did they do the job (chores/schoolwork) on their own initiative?

·      If they had to be reminded to do it, how many reminders did it take to get them started?

·      Did they work with a good attitude?

·      Did they work with their best effort?

Carla and I discovered having our kids grade themselves was the best way for us to keep from falling into the habit of looking for what they didn’t do and lecturing them for it. We would grade them too, and shared what we thought after they told us what grade they gave themselves. On the whole, we were often easier on them than they were on themselves.

Our kids gave themselves “A’s” through “F’s” and kept a monthly chart of both their regular chores including schoolwork and added additional tasks they were instructed to do as well. If they got lower than a “B” on any one of the points listed above, they would write one way they were going to work on it that week and put it somewhere they would see it each day.

It didn’t take long for the kids who helped me clean out the gutters to come up with their grades for “Good, Better or Best”. Their scores matched what I had come up with. I asked them how they could improve the scores that were lower than a “b”. They both came up with things they could do, and I asked them how they were going to remind themselves to work on the things they came up with.

I asked them why it was important for them to give a chore their best effort, especially in attitude. Wasn’t it good enough to get the job done? Why on earth would they need to have a good attitude as they did it?

We talked about the expectations of employers when they got jobs of their own (neither of the boys were old enough to drive yet). 

·      Why would I want to hire someone who thought doing the job their way was better than mine? 

·      Why would I want to hire someone who did the bare minimum on the job instead of giving it their best effort?

 ·      Why would I want to pay someone who kept stopping what they were doing to look at their phone to see if they got a text? 

I surely would not want to pay someone I had hired to do a job if they whined and complained about it to other co-workers or friends.

When kids grade themselves on their chores each day, they are learning to manage their own work ethic by taking ownership of it which will impact many areas of their lives.It especially helps kids with the Sanguine temperament as the proof of the effort or lack of is right there before their eyes. Ask them every day how they are doing on staying focused on doing what they had come up with to work on.

A good verse for kids to memorize is Colossians 3:23:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

How can you find out what your children’s temperaments are? Ultimately, we encourage you to ask God to open your eyes to the traits that make up your child and ask Him to teach you how to train your children in the way He wants them to go.