So much of parenting is repeating little nuggets of wisdom over and over again. I can think of so many phrases, prayers, and reminders said repeatedly as I was growing up. As parents, we remind our kids to be kind, to wash their hands, to say please and thank you and everything in between. Teaching and reminding our kids to work hard in all that they do is no exception.
Deuteronomy 6: 5-7 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on our heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Hard work and good stewardship are both examples of how we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might, but the question still remains: how can we teach our kids to learn and value the importance of hard work? If we continue to look in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, we see that we as parents are called to teach our kids diligently when we sit down, when we walk, when we lie down and when we rise. The words of God are meant to be weaved into our everyday life. Your work may consist of picking up after little people, caring for your home, answering emails, serving those in your community, or a little bit of everything. We can all work to implement practices that give space for kids to learn what it looks like to work hard and work to glorify God in all that we do.
Many times, things are caught without actually being taught both in the positive and negative sense. How we speak about our work both inside and outside the house matters. You get to live by example and practice using your work as a way to glorify and honor God. Shifting language from “I have to” to “I get to” is one simple way that you can begin to influence the culture in your home.
When you are teaching family values, you have the opportunity to cast vision and bring your entire family into the conversation. Kids love to ask “why” as they are learning new things and making sense of the world around them. When it comes to work, it can be incredibly helpful to explain the why behind the what. Why do you pick up toys? Why is it important to do the dishes and fold the laundry? What does God say in His Word about our work? Read scripture that highlights how work is good and that God created us to do good work. When you explain even a little bit, you are starting to give your kids a sense of purpose and vision for the work God has for them.
Make it Fun
Hard work doesn’t necessarily have to be boring. Sometimes it is impossible to escape the eye rolls and dragging feet, but in those elementary years, anything can be turned into a game. Mary Poppins was on to something when she said, “For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game.” Whether the job is cleaning, working in the yard, or even making dinner for a friend, there is fun to be had and memories to be made. Trust me, there are many times where you are in a time crunch and you have to work swiftly to cross off the to-do list, but when you can—have fun! A few examples are:
Play music while you work!
Set a timer and seeing how fast you can clean up
Give specific tasks, maybe something your kids have never done before, or make a big checklist and take turns crossing things off!
When you make work fun, you are creating positive experiences that will help shape a positive vision of work for your kids as they get older.
Teaching a toddler to put blocks away is slow and steady. Teaching a preschooler to wash the dishes will most likely lead to puddles of water on the floor. Teaching kids a new task takes patience and grace. One of the best ways for kids to learn is practice. Practice doesn’t always mean perfect, but it does mean progress. Kids will need help, they will need kind reminders, and they will probably fail or not do the job as perfectly or as efficiently as you would. That is okay! It is worth the effort to continue to teach them and not do the work for them.
Even as adults, we can fail at working hard and remembering whom we work for. The good news is that we serve a God who is very patient with us and we get to be an example of that love and patience to our kids.