When we talk about values we normally refer to things such as kindness, compassion, determination, honesty and generosity. As parents, we would love to see these traits in our children and watch them grow up with a strong value system. There is a common misconception that its best to wait until children are older before you start teaching them values. However, the earlier you instruct your children about morals and good values, the stronger the foundation for them to become good adults. Building up values also helps counteract the negative influences of society and the ills that peer pressure may bring to children and teenagers. Here is a list of important values that even toddlers should develop and different ways on how to teach them so that they become lifelong lessons:
Honesty – Teaching your toddler to tell the truth is often easier said than done. The best way to encourage honesty in your child is to be honest yourself. If you catch yourself telling little white lies or lying outright to get out of a situation, you can be assured that your little one will only imitate you when the situation arises. How you deal with dishonesty is another important factor. When you catch your child lying, don’t just tell him to “say sorry”. Explain to him that no matter how difficult or scary it may be, it’s more important to tell the truth or pay the consequences. Lies should be reprimanded immediately so that children make the connection between their action and the outcome. Most importantly, honesty should be appreciated and rewarded.
Determination and Self-Discipline – Teach your children to rise to a challenge. Excessive praise may seem like a loving way to encourage your children but it’s not doing them any favors in the long run. Provide your child with honest yet gentle feedback and always show him how much you support and appreciate his efforts. When your child does a task that doesn’t come easily – if he feels shy but goes out of his way to talk to other children at a party – make sure that you praise him for his actions. By recognizing his efforts, you can be sure to increase his determination to keep trying new things.
Empathy – From a young age, teach your children to keep other people’s feelings in mind. Encourage your children to help others as much as they can. Simple acts such as opening a door for an elderly person, helping them write a thank you note or a get well soon card, or asking them to include their shyer friends in their activities can go a long way towards building up empathy and compassion in children. As they grow older, you can also involve your kids in a more organized project such as visiting an old person’s home or volunteering at a pet shelter. Community service is a great way to develop other values such as generosity, kindness and respect.
Love – As a parent, the only way to teach your toddler to be loving is to love unconditionally yourself. Be generous with your appreciation, affection and sentiments and it is only natural that your child will reciprocate with the same. Do not be shy to say “I love you” to your family a minimum of once a day and if a hug or a kiss accompanies that declaration – all the better.
The more your children are surrounded by love and affection, the more love they show to others. If the one thing you have accomplished is to teach your child to express his love freely, then perhaps that’s the best value of all!