In this crazy, hectic world, values still matter. What values matter most to you? Which values do you want to give your children?
Kids are not born with a deep desire to be kind, thankful, generous or honest. Being moral, honorable or spiritual is not on their “to-do” list either. Left on their own, children will develop morals that reflect the world around them. Do you really want cartoons and reality shows teaching your children values?
Strong, effective parents know what they value. A good first step is to identify the most important values you want your children to have. Honest conversations between parents about values can align parental practices and help resolve future tension. Recording your values on paper can keep you focused.
Parents are often overwhelmed with choices. What is worthy of your time and attention each day? Knowing the values you want to transmit to your children can guide your words and actions. Children learn values from you.
The best time to transmit values to your children is now. Children of all ages—even infants— are watching and learning. Transferring values to a young child is easier than backtracking later in life. Looking for daily opportunities to transfer your values?
Value transfer opportunity No. 1: The family dinner table
Your family at the dinner table might look different than other peoples’ families. You may unwrap rather than roast your food. Your family may wear PJs rather than shirts with ties. And there may be only one parent at the table. No matter. Family mealtimes are still an influential place to teach values. Here is a sample of values you can teach at the family table:
Value transfer opportunity No. 2: Family walks
It is easy to feel out of touch with your family, even when they are in the same room. A slow walk can help you reconnect—and transfer values. Make it a weekly or daily tradition. Try these conversation starters to tap into value topics:
Value transfer opportunity No. 3: Use positive labels
Children live up to the labels used to describe them. If you call children difficult, stubborn, strong willed, picky, crabby or difficult, chances are that is what they will become. If you call them sweet, kind, happy, brave, nice, smart or interesting, odds are they will live up to the words you used to describe them. Parents who actively look for the best in their children—and celebrate those traits with their children using positive labels—become champions for good behavior and positive values.
What will you do this week to help your children develop the values that are important to you?