Helping children to develop responsibility, honesty, and respect is usually considered just as important as teaching reading or comprehension skills. There are lots of great values to teach your children, which can help them to avoid peer pressure or the temptation to conform to culture’s worst demands. It is important to consider which values you want to teach your children and determine what the best ways are to instill these values in them.
One of the best ways is to lead by example. If you want your children to grow up to be respectful, compassionate and honest, you need to strive for these qualities within yourself. Your lessons can quickly be forgotten if your children watch you contradict what you try to teach.
Here are some values to consider, suggested by the blog New Kids-Center.
- Honesty. As children grow, influences such as friends or the media can teach them to lie. It is important to counteract this by reinforcing the value of honesty. Children often fear being yelled at, so let them know you will always take the time to listen to them. Applaud their courage for telling you the truth, but follow through with any punishments you have promised. If you go back on your word, this is setting an example of dishonesty which can be counterproductive.
- Courtesy and Respect. Children learn respect at home based on how parents and others in their lives treat each other. Your children will strive to model your behavior, so if you are courteous, using “please,” “you’re welcome,” “thank you”, and similar phrases, your children will follow suit. It is also important to teach your children how to respect others’ opinions and property so that they can create healthy relationships.
- Gratitude. It is easy to take others for granted and forget to show others that they are appreciated. Teach your children to be thankful each day, even for little things like a smile or good weather. Remind them that life is a blessing and not everyone has the benefits they have, such as food, shelter, friends, nice clothing, etc. Helping your children to understand this will make them more appreciative of what they have.
- Generosity. It is easy to get caught up in what we want, particularly children. Teaching the importance of sharing at home can help your children learn to interact with others when it comes time for school. Consider taking on a charitable cause like donating clothing or food, which can help to teach children the importance of being generous.
- Forgiveness and Compassion. Those who are unable to forgive can grow up to be bitter. Whether or not it is intentional, people can act badly from time to time, and it is important to forgive these individuals and show them compassion rather than holding a grudge that will only hurt you. You want your children to be happy, not bitter and resentful. Teaching your children to forgive and move past things can make it easier to fuel a healthier mindset.
- Perseverance. Humans are not perfect and it often takes a few tries before we can manage a task successfully. The lesson of persistence starts when children are young, learning to feed themselves, walk or speak. Children at that age are likely to keep trying, but as they get older they will start to compare themselves with others, which can bring feelings of inadequacy. Let your children know that you are always proud of them, and when they feel discouraged, try to guide them to the right solution without simply solving problems for them. If your children learn to be persistent at a young age, then as they get older they will always have the urge to try their best.
- Humility. Humility is often overlooked, but is an essential quality. This does not mean lacking pride in our accomplishments, but having the courage to apologize when we have done something wrong. A good parent will stress the importance of a sincere apology.
- Responsibility. Responsible children grow into responsible adults. It is important to teach children to take responsibility for both their good and bad actions, which helps prevent your children from growing into whiny individuals who are always trying to blame others for things they have done wrong.
- Love. Parents believe that children are naturally loving and affectionate, but in order for this to last we need to reciprocate the emotion. Demonstrate love and affection for others in front of your children and be generous with showing love and affection toward your children as well. Surprise your children with loving gestures like slipping a note into their book bag or performing thoughtful gestures at unexpected moments.
Remember, people – including children – often live up or down to our expectations. Expect the best and you may be pleasantly surprised!
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Jeffrey Bellomo, Esq.