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The importance of teaching kids how to work

Some years ago, I had a conversation with my uncle about some career choices I was facing. Although I don’t recall much of what we discussed, I do remember his reassurance that regardless of the path I chose, it would be fine because my parents “taught me how to work.” Until then, I didn’t realize how well my parents prepared me for nearly every type of work I’ve ever done.

Knowing how to work can be taught beginning at an early age, with just about every task given to a child. Share the importance of having the right attitude, understanding the work objectives, sticking with the work to its completion, and most importantly, possessing a desire to do every job well. When these behaviors are present, learning specialized skills and the subsequent work effort will become more enjoyable and productive. The life skill of knowing how to work is something that I have tried to pass on to my children — I hope it serves them well.


  • Compare some of the positions you’ve held and consider what was common among them. Share your experiences with your children.
  • Engage with your child in a simple task to demonstrate what a job well done looks like. For example, wash the car with them making sure they clean the entire car and don’t skip the back panel.
  • Encourage your child to experience various kinds of work. These experiences are not lifetime commitments and may help them find something about which they are passionate.
The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact Mark Oleynik at or Marc McCann at