I am working really hard with Brian to instill values in our kids. I’ve come to realize though, that as children learn what is modeled for them, the key to teaching them solid values is through what Brian and I say and do.
Here are some keys to instilling values that Brian and I are discovering as we go:
We need to avoid criticism.
I’m sure you’ve had days like I did today. By lunchtime Logan had spilled four glasses of water, soaking the kitchen table and floor repeatedly. The first time, I was annoyed. The second time, I was frustrated. By the third and fourth I was just mad. I knew she wanted to be a “big girl” and have a cup like Molly, but I’d repeatedly told her to use a cup with a lid. She’s just too crazy at the table, and I knew she’d spill…again.
Well, when she spilled the fourth time, I didn’t just help her clean up. I helped her clean up and told her that she needed to stop being so clumsy. She needed to sit still at the table. And more…
Psychologists say that kids who grow up with criticism grow up to condemn others. I don’t want my kids to be critical adults, and I certainly don’t want my kids to learn criticism as a value.
If I could stop and rewind, I would have closed my mouth before I let the first critical word come out. Instead, I apologized for my words, assured Logan that she is not clumsy, and pointed out how many times I’ve spilled things, too.
Imagine if we all stopped criticizing and just helped them fix their mistakes…we’d have happier kids who are ready to jump in and help others.
We need to prioritize our values.
Going to church is important to us. So is exercising and eating right. We want our kids to be creative and individual, and stay true to their dreams. We want them to be kind to everyone.
We need to prioritize these things.
The kids need to see us say no to things that keep us from church. They need to see us say no to junk food and things with artificial colors and flavorings. They need to see us reading and learning new things – maybe trying a new craft or learning music. Most of all, they need to hear kind words come from our mouths.
When we let our children see what these values look like in action, our kids will be more likely to emulate what they see us doing. Living our values is a how-to tutorial for our kids, who may not otherwise know what living out these values looks like.
We need to include our kids.
In order for anything to be successful, everyone in the family needs to buy-in. We need to sit down with the kids periodically and ask about their perceptions. They can feel put-upon if their viewpoints, feelings, sensibilities, and opinions are not considered.
When we impress on our kids that their participation in maintaining the family standard is important and valuable, they take their responsibilities to the family more seriously.
If kids are included in the joys as well as the responsibilities of family life, there is a balance with all the mundane tasks that are necessary.
Hopefully they’ll learn to be loving and contributing members of their future families and communities when they become adults.
Again, children learn what they live.
What are some of your best tips for instilling values in your kids?