In this fast-paced, fast-changing world we live in, it may seem like morals and values as well as the concept of right and wrong are constantly changing. As parents we want the best for our children and want to teach and instil in them qualities that will carry them through life and shape positive behaviour.
But how do we do so when the rules are constantly changing?
There is a very old adage, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ And in this case, I feel like this holds true.
Morals and values go hand in hand with decency. Treating other how you would like to be treated will never go out of fashion, so in this sense there are classic values that will always stand the test of time…
While adults may argue that youthfulness is the most important period in a person’s lifetime, studies have always proven otherwise, while youthful age may be important in terms of decision making, childhood is even more important, as they often shape our perceptions towards circumstances that ultimately influence our thoughts and choice patterns.
“Within the child lies the fate of the future.”– Maria Montessori.
Suffice it to say that raising your child with the right lessons, virtues, and value system will ultimately play a role in making them a better person, while this is not a guarantee that they’d make the best choices in life, it is a guarantee that you’ve done the right thing for them. Hence every parent, guardian, or teacher has a duty, a call, a daunting responsibility that cannot be taken for granted, to say the least.
While we cannot create an exhaustive list of values to inculcate into the rapidly-learning children, we can give you 5 spot-on values to teach your children at the very beginning of their life.
1. SHOW THEM EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO TEACH THEM.
Book writers are fond of the phrase “showing vs telling”, and we can learn from them. Children are like book readers and our lives are the very first classic novels they get to read, watch, and listen to.
In inculcating virtues into a child you just cannot say one thing and do another! If you want your male child to learn to respect women you have to do so! If you want your girl child to be confident in society, you have to do so as well! Or rather be so.
“Your child will follow your example, not your advice”– Anonymous
Children are audio-visuals learners, so if what you teach them via audio doesn’t correspond with what you show them via the visuals of your daily life, they don’t seem to get it. If you want your child to wake up every day and make his/her bed, then you have to do so whenever you wake up. While there are no shortcuts to teaching children moral and social values, this is an easy-button way.
We can’t take the approach, “do as I say not as I do” because, let’s be honest… how well did that work out for your parents?
2. SHOW THEM THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS (BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE)
Ok, this might not sit well with some folks, but the earlier you realise that kids are not just kids, they have a very apt sense of reasoning and understanding. They seldom forget anything and are at the peak of their intuitive lifestyle. Making your child understand that there are consequences for every choice made will make that child a more thoughtful human being.
“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”– Nelson Mandela
In something as little as eating too many sugary foods and having a running stomach the following day, you can teach that child to be responsible in the way they eat, you just might never know, you can save them from diabetes or other health and nutrition-related ailments.
3. ALWAYS ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS
Oh yes! Children ask foolish questions. Let’s not sugar coat it. We can almost all agree on this.
Well, ‘foolish’ here is subjective.
Kids are new to the world and do not understand why things are the way they are, hence they hardly pass on an opportunity to understand their new world. What may seem obvious or like a silly question to adults, is not so to a little person who has only existed a few years or so!
We sometimes forget what it is like to see something for the first time or experience a new emotion. Our old eyes and brains ‘just know’ things – so we seldom take the time to put ourselves into the shoes of the child who does’t ‘just know’.
“Children will listen to you after they feel listened to.”– Jane Nelson
Whatever our reservations or hangups may be about their questions or sometimes just the timing of their questions, our overall aim should be to “Make Them Confident”.
When a child is always silenced, that child tends to feel unimportant or feel ashamed of asking further questions. But unwittingly you may be making or building a timid or low self-esteemed individual who may be scared of expressing their opinions in the future.
4. TEACH THEM MANNERS!
Quite frankly it is almost impossible to give what you don’t have, but it is very possible to raise kids that have better values and morals than you did.
Teach them manners!
Teach them to be kind.
Teach them to help those in need.
Teach them not to look down on people because of their race, colour, ethnicity, or religion.
Do 5-year old kids understand all these? Yes, they do!
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil”– C.S Lewis
With practical examples, particularly with chores or tasks, show them that they can accomplish more with the help of others, and help them to understand why teamwork is important.
With a little smile, encourage them offer to help friends or neighbours in very little things. At bedtime, explain to them through bedtime stories that they can’t always have their way, and must learn to take ‘no’ for an answer. Also, help them understand that they can and should say ‘no’ to other people when/if they want.
5. TEACH THEM HONESTY
Honesty is the best legacy? Well, no one built a dynasty with a legacy.
I bet you remember the first time that little person lied to you? *laughs to self*…I do!
Teaching your child to be honest may not be an easy task, but hey, it is worth the try. By building daily principles of honesty, integrity, justice, and fairness, you are building a castle that will be something to marvel at in the coming days.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”– Peggy O’Mara
While raising children may not be easy. Still, we must ensure we do not silence the intuitive and inquisitive voice in them, by carefully attending to their needs and gradually showing them ours.
We guide them audio-visually to making them a better individual; for legendary Italian educator and physician Maria Montessori rightly said…within the child lies the fate of the future.