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can parents help to teach a work ethic?

(30 Posts)
inkyfingers Tue 30-Aug-11 13:46:48

Just listened to radio prog (You and Yours) on (un)employment and young people etc etc and one contribution went on about how schools don't teach a work ethic and pupils come out expecting a job but don't have the right attitude (we've all heard that before).

Now wondering about my teenagers and if they have a work ethic. They go to a good school (don't know if it teaches this), but do I send them up my chimney or only give pocket money when they've done their chores? Personally I don't like them helping to wash car or tidying room if they think they'll get paid.

triskaidekaphile Tue 30-Aug-11 13:48:46

Oh no- we don't have a chimney.sad No wonder mine have no work ethic.

Madlizzy Tue 30-Aug-11 13:50:49

My lot earn their pocket money by doing chores in the house. Their bedroom is not a paid chore, that's just expected of them. Consequently, they look at other ways to earn money. They wash cars and have baked cookies, selling them door to door locally.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 30-Aug-11 13:51:04

We model hard work ourselves and commitment to working. We also facilitate her work by providing resources, allocating time, helping her if she needs it. We also encourage work in the house to be a communal thing particularly looking after pets as it teaches responsibility and can be quite hard work.

Dd works as a steward at a horse show at only 13. It's hard work and she loves it.

ZZZenAgain Tue 30-Aug-11 13:51:27

I don't know about specifically teaching a work ethic as such with chores/payment - but a general sense of willingness to take on responsiblity in life (of which earning your living is just a part), yes I suppose it is part of the general education we should be attempting to impart to our dc - leading by example etc

Am not really consciously dealing wtih this tbh

AMumInScotland Tue 30-Aug-11 13:53:46

I think you get on better by demonstrating a work ethic than by attempting to teach it. If you go to work, don't throw sickies, don't chat over the dinner table about how you spent the whole day on MN because you couldn't be arsed to write that report, etc then your children will be absorbing the idea that going to work, in order to earn money to pay for things, is the norm.

How you can do that if no-one in the immediate family is in employment must be rather trickier though, and I'd guess its those families they are more concerned about.

inkyfingers Tue 30-Aug-11 13:54:07

I think it lurks in the background in our house, eldest would like a job and I'd love him to have one for all the good reasons, but hard to find. We model it I think, and they know I had to work hard to get my job. Time will tell!

cory Tue 30-Aug-11 19:48:38

Part of my work ethic involves doing work ^because it needs to be done^- whether it is helping a sick neighbour or staying behind at work to lend a helping hand to a colleague or student- I would hate it if my children imbibed a work ethic from me that was only about keeping a narrow eye on direct remuneration.

cat64 Tue 30-Aug-11 19:55:08

Message withdrawn

chill1243 Fri 02-Sep-11 12:51:46

Yea go for showing example of a willingness to get stuck in.

Work ethic is a phrase usaed by female broadcasters to compare themselves favourably with other people.

I dont like that aspect of mild bragging. But we need to get the kids interested in something which they are enthusiastic about.

Some schools are into rigor and pushyness, Heard about the academies and Eton......Its an interesting subject. But I think a lot of it is in our genes.

Sportsmen seem to breed active sons and daughters. My parents were not pushy, but active and hardworking. Myself? I go like a train in short bursts.

Every child is an individual. Get to know yours.

marriedinwhite Fri 02-Sep-11 19:23:16

I think it starts at home. If children see parents working hard they will realise it's a non negotiable way of life; they will also pick a few hints if parental expectations are high providing they are reasonable. If parents show that hard work reaps rewards then children will absorb the fact that work reaps more than a sense of entitlement.

LovetheHarp Sat 03-Sep-11 07:34:27

I am really not convinced that purely observing your parents work hard gives you a work ethic as I have witnessed lots of sons/daughters of very hard working people become complete wasters - in fact it is a huge new phenomenon in the country I come from, which is spreading like the plague.

I think that it is essential not to spoil the children, not to give them everything on a plate and also to have very high expectations of them in all areas of life. School also plays a part, especially as teenagers.

Mutt Sat 03-Sep-11 07:40:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exoticfruits Sat 03-Sep-11 07:59:30

I think that it is mainly form example, parents working hard, doing things they don't want to do, not just taking days off etc etc.
However it is also important for the DCs to get the right message, say 'no', don't give them everything on a plate, have a tight budget, don't worry about them being bored, get them used to putting themselves out for others.
Don't give them money for doing what they should be doing as partof the household anyway. (however they could earn for extra). Don't bribe for exams-they ought to want to do well for their own sake.

exoticfruits Sat 03-Sep-11 08:00:13

from not form

BelleDameSansMerci Sat 03-Sep-11 08:24:05

I'm not sure it's something that can be taught, just shown/demonstrated. It's the expectation that (for most of us) if you want something you have to earn it. I'm not great at instilling this in my daughter (4) as I had a very tough childhood and tend to over-compensate.

I don't see how a work ethic could possibly be taught in schools.

exoticfruits Sat 03-Sep-11 08:49:01

I think it is mainly example. My DS was always saying 'just throw a sickie'-something DH and I would never do. I was very pleased that when it came to an occasion that he wanted to, he couldn't do it. It wasn't that we told him not to-he had just taken in that it wasn't the right thing to do.

LynetteScavo Sat 03-Sep-11 08:54:03

I agree it's mainly example.

chill1243 Sat 03-Sep-11 12:14:35

very interesting debate this. All angles covered. I came not to like the phrase work ethic; because of the way some people I know were using it.

I wish Dave Cameron had not used Tough Love. Because I think it can hide
nasty practices. (American in origin I beleive)

If you want real ENDEAVOUR loook up Flight Lieutenant Cadman from Lincolnshire ....she performed amazing feats for charity....running, swimming and cycling.....I could not believe it at first.

As someone who does not do exercise at amzed me.

LovetheHarp Sat 03-Sep-11 15:56:56

I would say that schools do help with a work ethic and can really make a difference at secondary level especially, to support the parents.

For example a school that has high expectations, which imply hard work, will help with a good work ethic if supported by the parent at home. In reverse, if a school does not demand much from children, it is hard for the parents to make them sit down and work hard. Based on my personal experience, of course!

pointythings Sat 03-Sep-11 20:45:09

I think you cnan teach a work ethic - up to a point. As a parent you can:

Go to work and not take sickies.

Talk to your children honestly about money and teach them that buying things you can't afford and don't need isn't clever (obviously make a distinction between replacing your washing machine when it dies even though you're broke and getting that huge flat screen TV when your old one is still fine).

Teach your children to wait - no, you can't have that toy/thing/gadget now but put it on the list for Christmas/your birthday and understand that you're not going to have all the big things you want

Teach your children that a lot of free things are worthwhile - a trip to a museum or a nature reserve with a picnic.

Teach your children that homework is non-negotiable (even when like me you don't agree with homework in primary - that's just the world we live in)

Things like that. There are a lot more.

pointydog Sat 03-Sep-11 20:54:08

Yes of course parents can help. By working, by getting up and out the door sharp, by not taking sickies for no reason, by doing things properly around the house. It all helps. No guarantee, mind.

chill1243 Mon 05-Sep-11 11:35:36

As you say Pointy, "No guarantees"

May I ask the philosophical question?

If we were all thrusting work ethicers; would it make the difference to society we wanted; or would it be a different kind of nightmare?

I will do some thinking about that before I post again.

pointydog Mon 05-Sep-11 17:34:05

It would be a different kind of nightmare, deff.

I am surpirsed, inky, that you don't know if your own kids have a good work ethic. Tends to be obvious.

bigTillyMint Tue 06-Sep-11 07:36:45


Work ethic is about going onto work / school every day - only having time off if you are genuinely dying on your feet.

It is about starting something and seeing it through to the end.

It is about doing something if you have said you will do it.

It is about trying to do your best to achieve something you are proud of.

It is about being dependable and trustworthy.

It is about sometimes doing things for no personal gain.

It is about working with others to achieve things.

It is about "having a go" and showing willingness.

I could go on....

All these things we can teach our children from when they are tiny.

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