Raising a child is a tremendous responsibility and with it comes the job of instilling lasting values that your child will carry with him/her for his/her entire life. It is one thing to be sure your kids are provided shelter and food but quite another to be sure that important values are taught on a daily basis. Many parents make the mistake of using the “Do as I say and Not as I Do” method of parenting. This type of parenting is perhaps one of the most detrimental, especially if you allow your child to witness you engaging in activities that could be considered dishonest or hurtful to others. For example, you cannot allow your child to watch you steal something and then tell him/her that stealing is wrong. Following are five of the most important values you can teach your child.
Teach Your Child the Value of Love
The most important value you can teach your child is love. If a child learns how to give and receive love from an early age then all of the other values will fall into place nicely. If you know how to love and the value of it then you will not want to do anything to hurt another person. The best way to teach your child love is to display affection on a constant basis. You should offer hugs and kisses to your spouse and to your children on a daily basis and never miss a chance to say the words “I love you”. Unfortunately, in many homes these words are not said nearly enough. Showing love goes a lot deeper than just saying it. Your actions are also very important. It is easy to tell someone you love them but showing that love is a different ball game altogether. Offer small gestures of love throughout the day. You can do this by packing a small note or greeting card in your child’s lunch box once in awhile just to say you love them and are proud of them. The more love a child is exposed to while growing up the better his/her chances of building loving and lasting relationships throughout life will be.
Honesty Is an Important Value to Teach
Honesty is something that your child should learn at a very early age. Unfortunately, most of us do not seem to practice what we preach in this department. It is very easy to show your child by example that lying is something we only reserve for “special occasions” but it is much more challenging to teach a child that lying is never a good thing. As parents we must be very careful what we do in front of our children as they are mirrors of us and will do what they see, not what you try and tell them to do. A good example of what seems like a harmless lie to you may be telling one of your friends that you are not feeling good (when you are not sick) so you would rather skip the weekly girl’s day out shopping. If your child witnesses this then he/she will begin to think that small lies are alright. Where do we draw the line? A better solution would have been to tell your friends the truth that maybe just this week you didn’t feel like going or that you were busy with something else. It is important to teach your child that you can follow the same set of values and ideals that you set for him/her. An important lesson for your child to learn is that if they are doing something that they may have to lie about it is best to reconsider that decision or behavior.
Teach Your Child How to Be Considerate
One thing that many kids lack is the ability to exercise consideration of another person’s feelings. This is usually because this value has not been taught at home. There are so many small and simple ways to teach a child consideration. One good suggestion is to include your children in problem solving for situations that have lead to trouble in the past. For example, if you have two or even three small children then car rides can be something out of a nightmare. One child wants to listen to the radio; the other child wants to sing out loud and the third child just wants both of them to be quiet so he/she can gaze out the window. The next thing you know you have three small children with very big voices screaming in synchronicity. The next time you get ready to go somewhere you may want to sit down and talk to the three of them and ask them for suggestions on how the ride can go a bit smoother. Your kids will surprise you with the solutions they will provide. If at the end of the trip things did in fact go as planned and according to the suggestions provided by the kids then you can praise them on a great job. Believe it or not this teaches them to control certain behaviors in order to show consideration for another person or people.
Determination Is a Vital Value to Possess
We want our children to excel and do well at everything they attempt. However, sometimes we do them a disservice when we are too easy on them or praise them on a job well done when we know for a fact that they can do better because we have seen them. No one wants to hurt their child’s feelings but sometimes finding a good way to tell your child that you feel he/she has the potential to do better at a specific task can instill a sense of determination in him/her. For example, your child is very good at reading and spelling but forgets to study for a spelling test. That child brings home a B when you know he/she could have easily gotten an A. You are faced with the decision as to whether or not you should let it slide or say something. If you want to teach your child determination then you can say something like “A B is pretty good but I know you could have gotten an A and the next time I would love to see an A on your spelling test.” You may not think this will have an impact but your child will have a natural desire to please you and make you proud. This is a great way to teach determination.
Teach Your Child the Importance of Justice
There are many parents today that practice reasoning as a form of disciplining their children. There is nothing wrong with this method but in some cases it lacks something very important and that is justice. If your child does something to hurt another person, either physically or emotionally then it is fine to sit him/her down and tell her that what he/she did was wrong and why but this just isn’t enough. There has to be more. For instance, let us say that your six year old daughter just destroyed something that belonged to her four year old brother and it was done with malicious intent. To her she probably thought she had a good reason. Maybe she was angry at him for something. Either way what she has done is wrong. Once you explain this to her then you must help her to find a way to make it up to him. Either she must sacrifice and give him one of her toys or she can take money from her piggy bank to buy him a replacement toy. The important thing is that she understands that doing something to hurt someone else is wrong and that “I’m sorry” just is not enough. By teaching your child that action and amends are very important factors in taking responsibility for his/her actions then you can set a pattern of justice for the child to live by.
There is just nothing as important as teaching your children the importance of values in life. If you want your child to go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life then you must teach him or her how to love and appreciate others and to be the absolute best kind of person he/she can be.