Written by: Stéphanie Deslauriers
This first step is to identify the values you believe in and to determine their order. As parents, we are all quick to say that family is an important value, but how would you really rank it? Is it at the very top? Is it more important than your marriage? Or your career?
It’s important to discuss this with your spouse: do you share the same set of values and are these prioritized in the same order? If not, is there room for compromise? Incidentally, studies show that couples who share the same core values and give them the same priority have a better chance of staying together.
So, which values do you absolutely want to pass on to your children? Safety? Respect? Generosity? Openness? Determination?
The best way to teach your children your values is to act in concert with these. When your actions reflect your values, you’re giving your children an example to follow based on real situations.
Because one thing that never works is preaching: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Children learn from the behaviours they are exposed to and even more so from the people close to them, like their parents, but also their siblings, caregivers, teachers and even friends.
If you want to teach your kids gratitude, hard work or perseverance, you could offer them a reward when their actions reflect these values. The reward doesn’t have to be material (like a toy or knick-knack); it can be a special activity, quality time together or verbal encouragement.
Give your kids examples by sharing past experiences where your actions reflected values that are important to you. You can also talk about situations you may regret; times you wished you had acted differently and stayed true to your values.
Another way to engage interest and inspire your kids is to describe situations where you found yourself dealing with someone who had completely opposite values. Explain how it made you feel or how you reacted. Alternately, you could also talk about people you admire because they exemplify righteous and inspiring values.
Ask your kids to share their own experiences and opinions to see what their values are and how they apply them in everyday life. You can then explain how you perceive their behaviour, congratulate them, or encourage them to think about what they could do differently next time.
In the end, it’s essential to remember that children are not replicas of their parents. They have their own personality and they will develop and strengthen their set of values throughout their life based on personal experiences. What’s more, parents aren’t the only persons after whom kids will model their behaviour. But by listening, being open-minded and completely accepting, no matter their values, you teach your children to respect the individuality of each person.