Teaching Children to be Hard Workers

Teaching Children to be Hard Workers

If you have been a parent for very long, you may have noticed that most children do not naturally like hard work. Actually, I think that is true for most human beings.

Most people I know, myself included, would choose sipping sweet tea and reading a book on the front porch rocker over getting blisters digging post holes any day of the week.

Children, at least the eight children I live with, must be taught to work hard.

Little children up until about the age of 7 or 8 years old aren’t really all that helpful in the work they provide. What I mean is that many times we adults end up having to do over the work they have done. Ask a child under 7 to make up your bed, and you’ll see what I mean.

After about the age of 7 or 8 though, I have found that children who are taught to work hard can be productive and helpful members of your little miniature society, also known as a family.

Teaching children to work hard

We recently had to reinforce a LOT of the fencing around our chicken yard and hen house. You see, our neighbors were complaining about our free ranging chickens ranging into their flower beds, and we needed to make our fence more secure.

This was the kind of work that required a team. One person needed to cut wire ties, one person needed to heft the heavy roll of chicken wire and unroll it, and several of us held it in place and twisted the ties around the chicken wire to attach it to the existing fence.

You’ll see in the above photo that my 8 year old was cutting the pieces of wire we used to secure the chicken wire in place. (Her mouth is in motion, as usual, because she was entertaining us with a “radio drama” in the style of “Adventures in Odyssey.”)

Those wire cutters were heavy and sharp, but she willingly and confidently used them for well over 2 hours safely and with no injuries or complaints.

This project was a whole-family event. Everyone pitched in and pulled their weight. Even the 3 year old fetched us tools or gloves when we requested them.

Here are some of the ways we have taught our children to be hard workers:

Work along side your kids. 

Let them see you rolling up your sleeves and digging in. Show them what a hard worker looks like.

Encourage them while you are working.

I don’t mean the kind of encouragement I hear these days that is really false praise and flattery. Don’t tell them they are doing a good job if they really aren’t. While we are working, I tell my kids things like, “Keep it up,” and “You can do it,” and “Don’t give up,” and “Look how much we have done!”

Discourage complaining. 

I don’t tolerate whining, and I don’t want to hear how a) hot b) cold c) tired they are. I tell them that each one of us can feel the temperature the same as they can and no one appreciates a whiner. Whining and complaining about work only make it harder for everyone.

Remind them that “many hands make light work.” 

Living in a large family makes this evident daily. All 10 of us can clean out the van in no time flat, when it would take a single person much longer. The above project was a good example of this. We all knew that none of us would have been able to complete the fence on our own, but together we knocked it.

Remind them that hard work builds character. 

I’m sure this is one of those statements that my children will recall when they are older, and laugh about how many times they heard it from me. They have also heard these on many occasions. ”You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it,” and “It doesn’t have to be fun. It just has to be done.”

Don’t offer a reward for every job.

Now, I know this one goes against some popular parenting strategies, but I’m going to stand by it, and here’s why. Sometimes the reward for hard work is a feeling of pride and accomplishment and the result of the hard work. And nothing more.

In the real, live, grown up world, if you spend a couple of hours mowing and edging your lawn, you will end up with a nice looking yard. If you spend some time patching some damaged drywall in your living room and touching up the paint, you will have a nice looking room. No one will be handing out ten dollar bills because you worked diligently. Your reward is the result of your work and the good feeling you have inside. And that is more valuable than any sticker on a chart.

Kids need to know that sometimes work is hard and dirty and needs to be done not for a reward at the end, but just because it needs doing.

Teach them to be independent workers.

I tell my big kids, “If I have to help you help me, that is not helpful.”

They know the most helpful thing is to find something that needs doing, and just do it. If a meal has just finished, chances are dishes need to be cleared from the table, the floor needs to be swept, and food needs to be put away. Start doing!

The next most helpful thing is to ask what needs to be done and do that.

The least helpful thing is to require someone to guide you in every step.

Discourage laziness.

My children know that almost nothing is more annoying to me than to find one of them idly watching everyone else work. No one likes someone who isn’t willing to work or finds excuses to get out of work and leave it to others.

If it is work time, and I see one of my children being idle, I tell them, “Pick something up! Wipe something! Get busy! Make yourself useful!”

We can teach our children to be hard workers by expecting them to work.

How do you teach your children to be hard workers?

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And Then I Found a Ring in My Baby’s Butt Crack

Our 8th child, who we affectionately refer to as “the baby,” is what many would call “a character.”

Or “a pistol”

“A corker”

“A handful”

“A stinker”

We always know where she’s been because we see the signs.

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Like this.

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And this.

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Sometimes it’s written all over her face.

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Or we walk into the laundry room and find her standing in the washer trying to shove a popsicle stick down the detergent hole.

You know. Just regular “she’s a handful” type stuff.

So, one night around midnight I wasn’t too awfully surprised when my oldest daughter knocked on my bedroom door to wake me and said, “You have got to follow me into the living room! You’ll never believe who’s in there!”

She said she came downstairs to get a drink of water and she heard some rustling around on the recliner in the living room. She was a little concerned at what could be making the noise at such an hour when the whole house was asleep, so she nervously shined her cell phone light in that direction.

That’s when she saw her and came to get me.

When I rounded the corner, I saw Li’l Miss 2yo Handful sitting on the recliner, rummaging through my purse.

At midnight.

As naked as the day she was born.

My first response was, “WHAT THE HECK? HOW..? WHY???”

I stood with my hands on my hips and said in a disapproving tone, “WHAT are you doing?!”

She knew she had been caught doing something(S!) she shouldn’t be doing so she made a quick excuse. “I needed gum…” she stammered out.

My oldest daughter, who had found her, was stifling giggles by now, and I began listing all the reasons she was in trouble.

1) You do not get out of bed and wander around the house.

2) At midnight.

3) To dig in Mama’s purse.

4) Butt naked.

I told her she was going to get a spanking and I picked her up, turned her around, and bent her over to give her a couple of swats with my hand.

That’s when a ring popped right out of her crack.

You know the costume jewelry kind that you find in the toy aisle in a kit with a crown and a wand?

Like candy from a Pez dispenser.

At this point, my 18yo and I looked at each other and we both lost it. I couldn’t go through with the swats. I couldn’t even breathe.

Apparently the ring was in the chair when she sat down and it got wedged in tight until the moment of truth. Until she became the goose that laid the golden egg. Or the fish that produced a gold coin to pay the taxes.

She was saved by the ring.

Want more hilarity? Try these:

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Crafting With Duck Brand® Craft Tapes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Duck Brand for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you seen the new glitter Duck Brand Craft Tapes?

I recently had the opportunity to try them out and they are so fun to use for glamming up common household items! This tape is self adhesive and the glitter does not flake off.

Duck Brand craft 7

I made this darling bag, which can be used for make-up, or even as a pencil case.

Duck Brand craft

I started this project with a gallon size Zip-loc bag, which I cut in half.

Duck Brand craft 2

Next I started adding the Duck Brand® glitter tape. When I got to the opening I had cut, I simply taped it shut.

Duck Brand craft 3

I embellished with a contrasting color.

Duck Brand craft 4

This is the perfect size for cosmetics!

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I also covered this little empty box (which formerly held panty liners) with Duck Brand Craft Tapes to hold desk accessories.

Duck Brand craft 5

My girls couldn’t wait to get their hands on this craft tape so they could do some of their own projects.

Duck Brand craft 6

Follow @TheDuckBrand on Twitter and #DuckCraftTape on Instagram to find inspiration for your own projects.

Visit Sponsor's Site

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Keeping Kids Safe Around Parked Cars

Keeping Kids Safe Around Parked Cars

We had a very frightful and traumatic happening here over the weekend. You can probably guess what it was from the title of this post, and I am so glad I can write this as an ALMOST tragic warning.

Soon after taking the photo above, all the kids brushed the sand of the beach from their clothes and feet and we stopped on the way home to get frozen yogurt. Everyone was happy and exhausted when we got home, and we all scattered to rest, read books, or just generally chill out.

3yo Peyton asked if she could stay outside and play with the bubbles I had bought for the beach, and I said “sure.”

A little while later, I realized I hadn’t seen or heard from her in what seemed like too long, so I asked if anyone knew where she was. No one did.

I called for her and checked her bed to see if she had fallen asleep after our busy day. She wasn’t there.

I went all around the house calling her name and started to get a little panicky. I rushed outside hollering for her.

No answer.

I ran around to the back yard and yelled toward the woods.

I checked the swing set.

The trampoline.

The zip line.


I started to run frantically down to the hen house. That’s when I noticed the headlights were on in the old farm truck we rarely drive.

I rushed over there and found Peyton lying down inside the truck bawling her little eyes out. I opened the door and scooped her sweaty body up. She fell limp into my arms, sobbing between ragged breaths, “I… needed… you… I… needed… you…”

She had just that week been so proud that she figured out how to open the door to the van and get in all by herself. She just hadn’t figured out how to open the doors from the inside yet. I never thought to warn her that she should never get into a vehicle without us.

I am so very thankful the weather was mild that day. Even though the temperature outside only reached about 72 degrees, she was still hot and sweaty by the time I found her. Where we live, in Texas, it isn’t unusual for summer temperatures to reach over 100 degrees. This site shows that even on an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 123 degrees. That is enough to kill.

Every year, somewhere around 38 children die in hot cars from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside.

If she hadn’t turned on the headlights, I would have never thought to look in that old truck. I am so thankful God has plans for Peyton to be with us a while longer.

We will be locking our empty vehicles from now on, and we have also had numerous and lengthy discussions with Peyton about getting into cars without us.

Please do the same at your house.

Together we can keep kids safe around parked cars.

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No Shoes? No Problem!

Remember when I told you that when you give your kids plenty of time to daydream during quiet time it increases their creativity?

Well, lucky for me, that handy dandy creativity came right into play just this week!

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This little cutie pie was told to get her shoes on and get in the van so we could all head to soccer practice. It wasn’t until we were well on our way there that I realized she didn’t do as I told her to, and she was barefooted.

She started to complain that she wouldn’t be able to run and play when we got there because her feet would be cold. Being that mom who thinks kids ought to suffer the consequences of their disobedience, I told her it was too bad she didn’t do what I had told her to, and I guessed she would have to sit in the van for the duration of practice.

About that time, her 9yo sister noticed that the armrest covers on her car seat looked a lot like little slip-on shoes that might just fit a 3 year old.

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Because, you know, nobody wants to be that tacky family who has kids running around barefooted at soccer practice.

It takes years of practice to pull off this level of classy, friends.

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What Creativity Requires

Since I wrote this post about reestablishing our habit of having a daily quiet time (or nap time, or quiet contemplation, time, or whatever you want to call it) I realized that there are folks reading here and at my Facebook page who feel very strongly about not allowing their children to nap for fear they will be up until midnight with a toddler who doesn’t require as much sleep as Mama does.

Believe me, that is a very real fear I have myself because I have one particular child who will indeed be awake until the wee hours if she happens to get an afternoon nap.

But, because I so strongly believe that every one of us needs some time in each day to think quiet thoughts, to daydream, to imagine without any noise or screens or requirements of our thoughts and our time, I go ahead and risk the unneeded nap to give her that down time.

And now, there is new evidence that quiet time is what is required for creativity to flourish.

I already knew that, but it is nice to see the study confirming my thoughts!

quiet contemplation

Just look what can happen when kids are given time for quiet contemplation and daydreaming!

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