The Value in Teaching Kids to Work

This is a throwback article with timeless truth. Enjoy! Teaching kids to work requires a great deal of patience and diligence. Read on to see why it is absolutely worth every bit of it!
Camp Travis Director

“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”  Proverbs 14:23

All of us as parents want the absolute best for our child.  How to give, lead and teach them to end up toward what is best is often where we come up lacking.  Specifically, we tend to do more wishing the best or trying to give them the best than actually letting them learn it. 

As I remember back to some really helpful parenting classes 18 years ago, one of the nuggets that stood out was the concept of teaching a child the value of work.  Make our children work?  When, what and why were questions that brought some uncomfortable feelings and unsure answers as our toddlers turned into young kids.

Let me suggest a few things to consider as you look to help your kids develop character through work.

1)    Age?  Your kids don’t have to be sixteen to work.  Whatever you call it (work, chores, mom’s helper, or just being responsible) even toddlers can start benefiting from helping do small, age appropriate actions.  I remember countless times telling myself I needed to let my kids help pick up even though I could do it much faster without them because the end goal is bigger than the room being clean – we desired our kids not grow up feeling entitled to everyone serving them.  “For even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45.

2)    What type of work? Have your children help out with as many different things inside and outside the house as possible.  Though valuable as well, don’t limit your kids’ learning to strictly traditional chores (making their bed, cleaning the sink, shower, toilet, floors, dishes and taking out the trash). 

Give them opportunities to expand their life skills – paint a room, mow the grass, change the clocks for day light savings, do an online typing class so they can help type papers, or assist with carpentry and plumbing projects.  Today looks radically different from the times of Little House on the Prairie, but let’s not dismiss the value of learning how to cook, sew, shop for fresh food and even take care of an animal.  Retrieving the mail, cleaning the car and walking the dog are a few other options as you consider age appropriate items.

3)    Why should we teach and empower our kids to work? 

  • To develop skills they can use the rest of their life 
  • To have a sense of accomplishment and enjoy the fruit of their labor
  • To learn the value of a dollar and have money to give, save and spend (yes, in that specific order)
  • So they might be able to glorify God by being a person who is a fruitful, hardworking servant.  Col. 3:23 and 1 Cor. 10:31

My wife and I have many parenting decisions we would re-do if possible, but requiring our kids to do chores and work around the house has been advice we are thankful to have put into practice.  We’ve seen significant life lessons learned and character developed starting many years ago by simply putting away blocks, books and Barbie dolls.


Camper Corner:  Growing up, I clearly remember my dad waking me up to help with yard work early on Saturday mornings – it was agony.  One time in particular, he gave me the choice to opt out, but I knew he’d be doing it all by himself.  As I mulled over my decision, I began to feel God nudging me to change my stinky attitude and go help.  Are YOU listening and obeying God in areas to serve?  I’m glad I yielded then and feel the same way every time I’ve done it since.

About The Author

Mark Kaufmann

Mark graduated from the University of "Go-Longhorns" Texas with a major in Speech Communication and minors in Intramurals and Board Games. The camping ministry is special to Mark because he gave his life to the Lord at camp in ninth grade and continued to grow spiritually while working at Kanakuk Kamps in college. After graduating, Mark worked for two years with a college discipleship program called Doulos Ministries in Branson, Missouri where he met his wife.

He married Katie (known...

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