6 Secrets to Raising Hard-Working Kids

6 Secrets to Raising Kids that Do Hard Work

Has anyone else just thought, “Life is too short!” while trying to teach their child to clean the mirror in the bathroom? Or, ended up completing a job that was never finished by one of your kids? Maybe you thought about asking the kids to help around the house, and then just did it yourself because of the complaining you knew you would hear?

I’m just asking for a friend, of course.

In reality, I’ve experienced all of these issues. Yet, one of our core family values is teaching our kids the importance of hard work.

But how do we go from total resistance to a child who is willing to pitch in, and yes, even enjoy hard work?

My family is still a work in progress when it comes to work, but here are a few things that have helped us along the way.

1. Keep expecting your kids to help out.

Despite complaining and whining, and all the other things kids do to make us feel like we’re totally ruining their lives – keep asking and expecting them to pitch in around the house.

 Adulthood is filled with responsibilities. In life, there are tasks that simply have to get done. Whether you want to call it “adulting” or not, learning to step up to the responsibilities you face is something successful people do. Giving kids a strong work ethic prepares them for adulthood in a way that will benefit them for years to come.

2. Post chore assignments in a highly visible place.

In our home, the daily chores and the child assigned to each are posted in a high traffic area next to the kitchen table. These are chores we expect our kids to do simply because they are part of the family.

Not only is this basic chart a great reminder for my kids, but it’s an even greater  way for me to hold them accountable to those chores and not do them myself.  

3. Pay for high priority chores.

Posted below the daily responsibilities in our kitchen are a series of chores that need to be done on a weekly basis – like dusting, vacuuming, and more. Attached to each of these chores is a certain dollar amount. In our house, kids don’t earn allowance – they earn a salary.

Why no allowance? I’m teaching my children that in life, when we work, we get paid. 

From a very young age, kids can learn that work = resources, whether it’s fruit snacks or cash.

Side note: Paying for chores is also a great way to have kids do unpleasant tasks that you don’t enjoy doing. For example, I really hate matching up socks. So, the kids in our family know that they can earn good money matching up a laundry basket of socks. Another task that I pay for? Finding lost items. Hello, lost library book. 

4. Whenever possible, make work fun.

It helps a lot to have a great “Cleaning Up the House” playlist on Spotify. Crank it up, and do your best to make the mood upbeat while tackling big chores. Wear crazy hats, ice skate across mopped floors – but do what you can to keep things lighthearted while you work together.

5. Serve without glory.

It’s common for kids to get a lot of recognition from adults for doing small tasks. And while that’s good at times, it’s not reality.

Much of life involves completing tasks that won’t get a thank you – or even be noticed. In our family, my husband and I are always on the lookout for “glory-free” service opportunities for our kids. This includes things like picking up rocks in the church parking lot, cleaning up around our neighborhood, or raking leaves for someone without them knowing it was us.

We do our best to make those activities fun family times, but we’re trying to teach our kids one important thing: 

Work doesn’t have to be publicly recognized to be worth doing.

6. Train, then bite your tongue.

This may be the hardest for me. When it comes to teaching my kids to do a new job, I have a three step process.

  • Thoroughly demonstrate a task and outline your standards for what constitutes a “good job”.
  • Do the job alongside them the first time, praising the points where they are meeting your desired standard. “That corner of the mirror looks amazing! This corner could use a little more shine.”
  • Going forward, hold them accountable by checking their work after the fact. I make a game out of it by using a silly accent and pretending to be the “Senior Inspector for Cleanliness”. If you look and it’s really not done well – because of a bad attitude or laziness on your child’s part, then address the attitude, and calmly ask them to repeat the job. If it’s a little imperfect because they’re a kid, take a deep breath, and let it go.

Which of these ideas do you think you’ll try this week? 


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Lindsay grew up in Cedar Rapids and is surprised and delighted to find that she lives here as an adult. She's been married to a really great guy named Christian since 2007 and during that time, they've added three amazing kids to their family - Eadie (9), Graham (6), and Greta (4). Lindsay has spent time working as a content strategist, freelance writer, stay-at-home-mom, and is now enjoying homeschooling her kids. When she's not reenacting the Boston Tea Party for her kids with stuffed animals and fruit snacks, she loves being active outside, watching baseball games, reading great books, and having friends over for any reason at all. At the end of the day, Lindsay hopes she consistently lives out her faith, builds a strong family culture, and encourages moms around her in a meaningful way.