Teaching Values and morals

What are values? These can be defined in legal, social, religious or cultural terms, but basically a value is a principle that either accomplishes well being to both the practitioner and those on whom it is practiced, or at least prevents harm. By this definition important values are honesty, courage self discipline, moderation, loyalty, respect, love, kindness, and unselfishness..

Studies have shown that there are direct relationships between moral behaviours of children and the amount of time spent talking with parents.

With or without parental help, children begin developing both a conscious and subconscious value system from the toddler years onwards. These are picked up partly from friends, babysitting, partly from TV but mostly from their family. Children test, develop, modify and sometimes alter these values throughout their school years. During the teen years, a struggle for autonomy begins and efforts are made to construct an independent value system. Normally however this does not differ substantially from the value system of their parents.

The best places to teach strong values is the home and parents are uniquely equipped to do so because: –

  • children learn by example more than on the basis of what they are told:
  • children are predisposed to be influenced by their parents.
  • consciously or unconsciously the value system of a family is adopted in large part by the children.

The best ways for a parent to teach values are: –

  • Know your own values. If you yourself are confused, you will pass on the confusion to your children.
  • Practice what you preach. Children are sponges and they will learn to apply and live the values they are taught only if they see you doing the same.
  • Articulate your values clearly and simply.
  • Explain to your child why you hold those particular values rather than any others.
  • Accept that your child will add her own unique interpretation to the values you teach.
  • Make sure that practice of those values by your child is acknowledged, praised and encouraged e.g. telling the truth about a misdeed may be treated as commuting a part of the offence.

We should teach values to our children because it is the most significant and effective thing we can do for their happiness.

ยง Make use of stories, hypothetical scenarios, what if games and discussions.

For Toddlers

  • Simple Stories
  • Demonstrations
  • Little poems
  • Songs
  • Positive reinforcement for value reflecting behaviour.

For Kids

  • Games
  • More elaborate stories
  • Awards
  • Memorising values
  • Positive reinforcement for value reflecting behaviour

For Preteens &Teens

  • Discussions
  • Role playing
  • Opinion & experience sharing
  • Positive reinforcement for value reflecting behaviour

Before you can begin to teach values to your children, it is a good idea to see whether it will benefit them or not. Some values traditionally carried down from generation to generation may have actually outlived their usefulness in today’s world. For example blind obedience may have been valuable in keeping a large family together but will inhibit your children from learning to think for themselves. Ultimately the reason you choose for imparting a value system is as important – if you put tradition before the happiness or wellbeing of your children, rest assured that not only will they sub-consciously learn to do the same, consciously they will resent you for it.

References :

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