One of the goals as a parent is to watch your child accomplish many wonderful things. My son is only 3, but I can already sense that this overwhelming pride I have for him will be present for the rest of my life. Besides being kind, I want him to find something in his life that he feels passionate about. As a teacher, I’ve seen that passion can facilitate hard work, but raising a hard-working child is about more than that.
A child who is hard-working has the tools they need to put in the kind of work that helps them be successful. A hard-working kid understands that things don’t come easily or get handed to them. In truth, as a teacher, I would always rather have a classroom filled with hard-working students than geniuses. People can learn the things they need to do well in the world, but appreciating hard work is more difficult to teach. Getting kids to the point where they appreciate putting in a little elbow grease and a willingness to roll up their sleeves requires constant commitment to these six basic tenants.
- Recognize and encourage resiliency. The act of being resilient is so important for children because it teaches them that it’s OK to fail. A lot of my former students see failure as the worst thing possible. Once they made a mistake, it was all I could do to get them to try again. By teaching our own children to be resilient, we’re letting them know that part of success is failure, and that part of being hard-working is the willingness to try again.
- Acknowledge that they may do things differently than you. This might be the most important and difficult thing for parents to master. When trying to teach children to be hard-working, let them explore and figure out their own methods and strategies. When I’m in a class, I like to take Cornell notes. This works for me, and I show my students how it works, but it’s not for everyone. Each of my students needs to figure out their own method because only then will they feel comfortable putting in the work.
- Be proud of their accomplishments, but also remind them of the hard work it took to get there. Every parent loves being proud of their kid. What’s harder to manage is that children should be reminded of the steps they took to reach that accomplishment. Yes, it’s amazing that your kid scored the game-winning goal, but that didn’t happen out of nowhere. Practice, teamwork, listening to coaches, and skill helped them.
- Let them explore different worlds. Hard work looks different to everybody. I had many students who felt totally lost with reading Shakespeare, and if I had just assumed that they weren’t going to excel in my subject, I would have never seen how amazing they were as writers and poets. Hard work looks different in various subjects and aspects of life. Let kids find what makes them excited and energetic.
- Don’t diminish their effort. My 3-year-old son loves to help clean up. Is he good at it? No, but that’s not the point. I would rather have a chore take three times as long because I’ve allowed my son to make a mess while trying to clean than to discourage his effort.
- Be an example of a hard-working adult. Children are parrots who see adults as examples of how they should live their life. If we come home and spend an entire evening complaining about our jobs and binge-watching mindless shows, they’ll internalize that negativity toward hard work. Be positive and let them see all that you do for the house, your family, your fitness, and your job.