Is your child a box-checker? Does he speed through tasks and projects just to get them done? Here’s how to teach your child the value of a job well done.
Is your child a box-checker? An SSBE reader wrote about this situation. Her daughter wants to finish the job regardless of whether she did the task well or not. A quick smiley face for an art project? Done. Tossed the books onto the shelf? Cleaned.
From homework to getting dressed, is your child eager to finish, regardless of quality? How can you encourage her to do a good job—and take pride in her work?
I want my kids to do a good job in most everything, no matter how small. They may not give it their all every single time, but I want them to put effort into their tasks and hobbies. I want to instill the value of a job well done.
How to teach your child the value of a job well done
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Focus on the process, and not just the end result
Our mistake? We highlight the end result. We’re not happy until they put the toys away. We praise our child’s painting when she finishes. And we’re only satisfied when our kids get 100% on assignments.
But could all that focus on the end result send the wrong message? In celebrating the end, we forget the effort our kids needed to exert to get there. Our kids hear the message loud and clear: what matters the most is the final product.
While it’s important to do the job, we can’t forget the process of getting there. You can:
- Praise your child for trying new and efficient techniques.
- Tell her how proud you are of her for not giving up when it got hard.
- Talk about how awesome challenges are.
- Praise her for taking her time to get it just right.
Don’t accept mediocre work
You wouldn’t be happy if your child scribbled a few lines on paper and called it your mother’s day card. This was one of the few points of the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother I agreed with. Amy Chua returned a card because it was clear her daughter didn’t put any effort into it.
While I haven’t return gifts, I understand establishing your expectations and standards. I’ve told my five-year-old to try harder when he drew sloppy pictures for his homework. I know his potential and abilities, and the drawings he did weren’t meeting them.
We don’t have to praise everything our kids do. Point out that his project doesn’t seem like his best work. Suggest working on it another time when he’s not so tired. Be gentle, but honest. Avoid over-praising for something that doesn’t deserve it.
Don’t nag your child
Don’t nag about what they need to do. Find ways to communicate tasks in a respectful way. Use routines to ingrain certain regular chores so they do them without thinking. And remind them when they’re not tired, hungry, irritable or in the middle of something.
Because the sound of nagging is a huge turn off for anyone who has to listen to it. Your kids are going to do the task without effort just to stop you nagging. Not exactly valuing a job well done.
Struggling with getting your kids to do their chores? Want to develop good habits from the start? Download my Printable Chore List templates to help you and your kids organize chores!
Explain the value of hard work and its importance
My kiddo started brushing his teeth at lightning speed. Often we’re not there to see how well he’s doing it. Recently though, my husband caught him brushing his teeth for a total of four seconds.
“That was so fast,” my husband said. “Take it down slower, and hum the alphabet song while you do it. Don’t stop until you finish the song.”
Then he went on to explain why: “We need to brush our teeth well so that we keep them healthy. We won’t get cavities and they’ll be super clean.”
We spew so many rules that it sounds like we’re telling kids to do things just because. Instead, tell them the reason they need to do a job well done. It just might be the extra motivation they need to do the job well.
Slow down—it’s not a race
I get it. Kids are all about racing and winning and who’s the fastest, oldest, tallest, you name it.
But speed isn’t always the winner. If you want something done well, don’t focus on getting it done fast. Explain that a fast job can mean a sloppy one, or one filled with overlooked mistakes. Explain that you’d rather he do it well once, even if it takes longer, than to do it fast only to have to redo it again.
Give it your best try
Kids need to learn the value of doing your best. When you praise effort and grit, kids learn that giving it your all gives great results. It can be any action, no matter how small.
Going through the motions just to finish can be tempting for kids. You can instill the value of a job well done by focusing more on the process instead of the final outcome. Don’t accept shoddy work or nag them to do things. Explain why doing a good job is important, and take it slow and not focus on rushing so much. And encourage your kids to do their best—and not just check off boxes.
Get more tips on how to help your child value a job well done:
- Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
- Don’t Say “I Can’t”: Encouraging Effort with Children
- How to Teach Our Kids to Embrace Mistakes
- Homework Tips for Parents: Crucial Mistakes You Should Definitely Avoid
- Small Habits, Big Results: 8 Long Term Benefits of Reading to Your Child
Your turn: Do you have a box-checker? What tasks do they rush through? How do you help them do their best and value a job well done instead?
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