Beyond Games: How Do You Teach a Child to Value Hard Work?

Long-term projects can be even more daunting for kids than they are for adults. Many children are easily overwhelmed when faced with a task that might take hours or days to complete. They may struggle to know where and how to get started, question their ability to complete the project, or have difficulty seeing the rewards of completion. Parents need to teach their children that long-term projects require patience and sustained effort, but how do you teach a child to value hard work and persistence? In this edition of the LearningWorks for Kids Beyond Games series we suggest pragmatic strategies that will help your child sustain persistence and energy for long-term tasks.


Image: Flickr user eric.surfdude

Emphasize the rewards of delayed gratification. Help a child experience the tangible results of sticking to a task by emphasizing the reward for doing so. For example, youngsters who are trying hard to save enough money to buy a particular toy or game could benefit from a contribution from their parents so they could get it in a shorter amount of time. Point out and discuss how a child’s persistence in “sticking to it” with their saving inspired your contribution.

Take it step by step. When working on a larger task, start with smaller tasks that involve one or two steps. Children who are overwhelmed by a Legos project with 600 pieces could do far better starting with a Bionics set of 70 to 80 pieces. Help your child see the task of reading books a chapter at a time. Build a model one day and paint it the next day. Clean a room by completing a list of individual tasks: picking up clothes, putting away books and papers, making the bed, dusting. Discuss some historical accomplishments like the painting of the Sistine Chapel or how an athlete won an Olympic medal and point out the persistence required for overcoming obstacles along the way. Documentaries and dramatizations of these feats make good family movie night features that can reinforce your discussions and promote realistic expectations.

Develop schedules for long-term projects. A child should be encouraged to identify home and school long-term projects, due dates, and the work that is required for their successful completion. Synchronize home and school calendars on a frequent basis to ensure consistency in expectations. Help your child see that growth in areas like sports, music, and hobbies, as well as school, is the result of long-term, step-by-step efforts.

Complementing these core strategies with the use of apps, websites, and other technologies often leads to the best solutions to improve a child’s ability for sustaining persistence and energy long-term. Some of the best tech tools to help a child with sustaining persistence and energy long-term include:


Week CalendarRecommended for kids ages 8 and older, Week Calendar allows users to manage to-do lists with multiple tasks. With the ability to color code tasks for different categories or urgencies, and the ability to import from other calendar services like iCal and Google, Week Calendar is a great way to not only help your child manage time more independently but to oversee your child’s schedule-keeping habits.


SnapguidePart of helping a child to sustain persistence in completing long-term goals is for them to clearly see what is necessary for completing those goals. Snapguide is a great app for helping kids visualize the steps required in completing a multitude of projects with pictures, videos, and written instructions crowd-sourced from users around the world.


EdenSetting and completing goals isn’t always enjoyable, but it should be. Eden – World Builder is a touch-screen world-building game that can help drive home the value of persisting effort in a fun and engaging way. Reminiscent of Minecraft, Eden – World Builder requires users to gather materials in order to build objects and environments.


Featured image: Flickr user Tim Evanson

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