While specific values vary from country to country, culture to culture and even from household to household, some values are society-wide. No matter how you choose them, values play a pivotal role in how we behave in society and form part of how to raise our children.
Here are some tips to help you teach your child values:
Put it into terms they will understand
Especially when your kids are small, communicating something somewhat abstract such as values can be a tall order. Relatability is the best way to articulate a concept such as values. Liken it to something in their world. For example, try and explain stealing using something valuable to them, such as a toy or a book – ask them how they would feel if it was taken from them without their knowledge or consent.
Be a consistent role model
Gone are the days of "do as I say, not as I do." Children often emulate the adults around them, so if you don't want your kids to do something that you do, then perhaps it's time to adjust your behaviour to set a good example. The best way to get your kids to eat broccoli, for example, is to eat it yourself.
Empathy is a fundamental social skill when it comes to learning and adhering to social norms and values. Empathy hinges on the ability of a person to imagine how another person would feel and how your actions may affect others both directly and indirectly. Encourage your little ones to think end to end when doing something. A great way to teach empathy to young children is to use the "put yourself in their shoes" analogy. This analogy helps kids to understand how someone else is feeling by thinking about how it might make or has made them feel in the same instance.
Talk about why you do things regarding your values
When you talk about why you do things with reference to your values, it helps your child to understand the motivation behind these values. Label and express your ideals to help your child identify where and why you and the people around you have them. For instance, when you buy a birthday gift, say to your child "this is for your friend to celebrate their special day." You can reinforce the value of generosity by saying "It's generous to give people gifts."
Use community involvement as an example
And encourage your family to participate in value-driven initiatives together. Not only is it an opportunity to flex the value of unity, but it demonstrates leadership which is a quality that can be learned.
Address cultural messages that conflict with your own
If a common cultural message about beauty, for example, conflicts with a personal value, it's important to address it early and often. Setting boundaries for conflicting norms can be a complicated job. So, navigate the terrain with patience and repetition and let your child know that sometimes people don't agree about core values and it's okay. For example, acknowledge differences in race or ethnicity, prepare your child using inclusive behaviours and language and finally express that people look different and it’s all beautiful. Next, let your child know that this is how you feel in your family, but other people may not agree, and that's okay.
Allow your child to voice their opinion
When your child takes a stance that doesn't necessarily align with yours or societal values, let them know that while you disagree, they are entitled to their own set of opinions. If they can justify using a rational, empathetic argument, then they can have different values to you. If for instance, a child from a meat-eating family wants to be a vegetarian and they have a reasonable argument that motivates their stance - they should be acknowledged and encouraged to pursue their choice.
While values may vary from situation to situation, there are a few constants in the world of a child. Early development is boosted by messy play, so encourage your kids to play and learn outside and remember that dirt is good! Clothes can be cleaned, all it takes is a quality detergent such as Omo. Stick around for laundry tips like how to read laundry symbols and what detergent to use.