Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: Work ethic key to helping young people become capable adults

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Mattie Fox

Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox

Research from Harvard University suggests that children who do chores are more likely to be successful.

Moreover, the earlier they start to do chores, the more successful they grow up to be.

In the Harvard Grant study, the longest running longitudinal study in history, spanning 75 years and counting - from 1938 to the present day - researchers identified two things that people need in order to be happy and successful.

The first - love.

The second - work ethic.

What’s the best way to cultivate and develop a work ethic in young people? Based on the experience of 724 high achievers who were part of the study - including then future president John Kennedy, and Ben Bradlee, the Watergate-era editor of the Washington Post.

Based on those, along with 722 others there’s a clear consensus.

A “pitch in” mindset:

The study found that “professional success in life, which is what parents want for their children, comes from having done chores as a child”, and “ the earlier you start, the better”.

“A roll up your sleeves and pitch in...” mindset, a mindset that says, there’s some unpleasant work, someone’s got to do it, might as well be me. That’s what gets you ahead in the workplace.

By doing chores they “realise I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life.

It’s not just about “me” and what I need at this moment.

Once in a while RTÉ produce a programme that is different and one that caught my attention recently was “Raised by the Village”.

In short two very troubled and troublesome teenagers were brought from their Dublin homes, and sent to live with a family in a rural setting.

One girl and one boy.

The girl was sent to County Cork, the boy to Carrigallen, Co Leitrim.

Each was expected to work on whatever chores needed doing - something previously alien to either of them.

But the transformation of both within one week was truly incredible.

Absolutely astonishing.

The smile on that young man’s face QA when he felt he had something to offer and was appreciated for it, would gladden anyone’s heart.

The girl was less co-operative to start, but did have a change of attitude and had more confidence in her own worth by the end of the week.

The Harvard study, and research done, suggests that the reasoning behind this theory that children like to feel part of the family, community, and team.

Harvard concluded that “helping children to build responsibility, autonomy, and perseverance” is what’s necessary to becoming capable adults.