Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Continued from last week—-
Kids won’t just work for work’s sake and neither should we.  They need to understand WHY diligent effort is important and WHY they should apply themselves with all their might?

They need to know that God uses the discipline of work to forge their character.

It’s  “full throttle” effort – doing it with all one’s might –  that turns something boring into something fulfilling.  Only when a child begins to experience the growth within that diligent effort causes, will he begin to actually enjoy work.   On the contrary, he will find no joy in laziness, a state of mind that grows more entrenched and pervasive over time impacting everything and every relationship. He will try though because the idea of work is rarely enticing at the start. The idea of laziness is enticing however.
Kids definitely do need times when they are free to do whatever they want to do. They need to feel both the weight of responsibility and the joy of freedom from responsibility. Today’s culture has shifted, perhaps too far, to a belief that kids need more free time and less responsibility than in earlier generations.  Many kids are allowed to avoid work and thus fail to gain the confidence and character qualities  that come from consistent, diligent effort. According to Amelia Hill, correspondent for the Observer, parents who don’t give their kids chores at home may be slowing their development – especially their character development – because a lack of chores makes children less responsible.  Following is an excerpt from her research:

Children should be given chores to help them develop a caring attitude and keep them grounded, according to a survey that found parents are now reluctant to ask children to do household tasks.
A study of the articles, advice and letters published in more than 300 parenting magazines between 1920 and 2006 has found that most modern-day children are only asked to take on trivial responsibilities, such as feeding a pet, clearing the table after dinner or tidying up after themselves.
“In earlier generations, children and adolescents were given meaningful opportunities to be responsible by contributing not only to their households but also to their larger communities,” said Markella Rutherford, assistant professor of sociology at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.  “This was seen as especially important for adolescents,” she said. “Until very recently, greater autonomy and responsibility were emphasized as antidotes to teenage listlessness and rebellion.”

Homework is the only real responsibility given many children today and even it is under assault.

So how can we get our kids to gain a diligent work ethic and good work habits?   And how much is too much? I am not advocating excessive work but at the very least, kids of all ages need daily opportunities to learn and to grow and to be diligent – and with increasing measure as they age.
William, my grandson is almost two and his behavior has turned very “two-ish” with  responses of  “NO” and “MINE” to most everything.  Yet, when I allow him to help me, whether it it emptying the dishwasher or making cookies, he is content and happy- and very cooperative.  It IMG_3610would be easier to do these tasks without his “help” but I love the fact that already,  he wants to work- to contribute- and he is  proud of himself when he does. But he will need increased responsibility as he grows in order to stay engaged. He will need a reason for why he is learning to stir the batter and crack the eggs – that someday he will be able to produce “poopies”( his pronunciation of cookies) on his own.  So I need to help Will emerge from “helping” me make cookies – to doing part of the tasks independently – to actually making them on his own.  Work, for both adult and child, needs vision because without vision it becomes boring. With persistent efforts to improve his skills and expertise, perhaps William will someday become a world class “poopie” baker.  He certainly has a passion for eating them.

Today I want to share two websites that give helpful suggestions in how to grow a work ethic in kids:

Finally, I found the information in an Angela Duckworth, Ph.D You Tube video (listed below) to be very fascinating and well (very well) worth watching. 

She refers to a quality she calls “grit” which she considers to be the most common quality among individuals who have grown to achieve world class status in their endeavors .  Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit is really the willingness to stick to something in the face of obstacles and challenges- to keep on keeping on.  Researchers are finding that those who consider themselves naturally talented struggle to become “gritty” – perhaps because they have fallen for the false notion that their natural giftedness allows for “effortless perfection.”  I see this idea in a number of  students today who fail to grasp that “greatness” in anything requires sustained effort on their part over time.
Angela Duckworth, Ph.D –  True Grit: Can Perseverance be taught?  (18 minutes long and well worth the time – Middle and high school students would benefit from hearing this as well)

The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. (NIV)

The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway. (NIV)

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