The values we instil in our children shape the very men and women they become.
Beyond literacy and numeracy, values are arguably the most critical pieces of a child’s learning. Teaching values deals with how our children interact with the world, how they treat others, their environment, their families, and themselves.
What we teach our children in terms of good, bad, and wonderful makes all the difference in who they become and how they can share their unique gifts with the world.
Of course, finding a child care centre with a code of ethics you agree with is necessary for your family. You want to feel good about what your child is learning day in and day out, especially when it comes to something as important as values.
But as a parent, you hold the keys to the unlocking and teaching values that are closest to your heart.
Much of what children learn comes from what they observe and hear at home.
The strong values you give your child is something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
But what values are most important? Which ones make the most impact?
While beliefs differ from family to family, there are several key values that universally instil goodness and kindness.
We’ve put together a list of 7 of the most crucial values for your child to learn. These values affect future relationships, school performance, and life decisions.
We’ve included ways of teaching values and codes of ethic, too. Some of them are so simple, you may even be doing them already.
Here are 7 values of highly capable children and how to instil those values.
Being honest is central to a strong character because it is founded on truthfulness instead of deception.
Even in tough circumstances, honesty builds trust with others, whether it be classmates, teachers, or future business partners. By teaching your child honesty, you are gifting them with integrity and future relationships built on truth.
Why honesty is important:
Children who demonstrate honesty are more likely to be successful because they stay true to themselves and avoid deceptive behaviours. They’re also less likely to give in to negative peer pressure.
How to teach honesty:
The best way to teach honesty and integrity is by example. Opportunities to do this include:
- Not lying or hiding things (i.e. do not say, “We won’t tell Daddy we ate ice cream.”)
- Be truthful when interacting with adults, other children, and child care givers.
- Don’t overreact when your child lies, because this may encourage them to keep holding things from you.
- Help your child find truth and praise them for being honest especially when they’re admitting to something they did wrong.
Perseverance is what pushes a child to work through a challenge, math problem, or disappointing attempt at riding a bike.
It’s the drive to keep going even when it’s difficult.
Why perseverance is important:
Encouraging your child to persevere when things are a challenge is a life lesson that can never begin too early. Determination enters many aspects of life, including school grades, resolving issues with friends, and playing sports.
How to teach perseverance:
- Give support to your child to continue working hard at something. Whether it’s encouraging them to keep crawling or reading a tough book, instil the value of determination.
- Provide honest feedback. While praise is good for children, be sure to temper it with kind feedback when necessary. If you think your child could have done better with a drawing, show them kindly that they are capable of doing it even better.
- Encourage them when it’s not something natural for them. For example, if your child is shy, suggest with enthusiasm that they approach a new friend on the playground. Recognise their efforts with “Great job! I know that was tough!” This keeps them trying new things.
Sharing and generosity go hand-in-hand. They help children see that the world is much larger than themselves.
Generosity also plays into charity when we give to those who are less fortunate. When we are generous, we are open and loving without expecting anything in return.
Why generosity is important:
When children learn to be generous, they think less about themselves and more about others. Rather than becoming self-centred and self-involved, they think about helping and caring for others.
How to teach generosity:
- Show your child how to share with others. Whether it’s lending a toy or offering a piece of their fruit to another child, the roots of generosity can be formed.
- Involve them in activities that helps others. At Harmony, we participate in several community and charitable events, where children can get involved and help others, like our sponsorship of children from Vietnam through World Vision.
- Do a project that involves thinking of others. You can make Christmas cards for children in the hospital or donate to a food bank. Whatever it is, make sure your child plays an active part.
A child’s curiosity is what prompts them to explore outside, watch animals at the zoo, and build a tower with their toy blocks. They ask questions about how the world works and why you do certain things.
Why curiosity is important:
It’s critical for children to think on their own and explore the world around them. Rather than just accepting what is, they dig deeper and search for answers. It propels them to learning new things, meet people, and enjoy all life has to offer.
At Harmony, we nurture children’s sense of wonder and uplift the spirit of their imaginations.
How to teach curiosity:
- Introduce ideas or things without giving answers. Let your child explore new places and do new things allowing them to discover pieces on their own.
- Get them wondering. Ask them questions about the food you’re cooking or the weather outside.
- Try to get them curious about something without them realising. Encourage their exploration.
When a child is grateful for what they have, they don’t take things or people for granted. They are thankful for their parents, friends, food, and more. Their gratitude creates happiness because they realise all that they have.
Why gratitude is important:
Being thankful is central to leading a happy life, because goodness can be seen in even the littlest things. Gratitude helps build healthy relationships – we can be thankful and gracious for what others do for us.
How to teach gratitude:
- Thank your child. If your child helps pick up the room or gives you a hug, be sure to show gratitude.
- Expose your child to those who have less. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or church where people may not have good food or proper clothing.
- Prompt gratitude. If your child receives something from you or someone else, prompt them to say a sincere, “Thank you.”
Respect is a child’s ability to see the value in nature, animals, material things, and other people. It’s the gateway to kindness and seeing the world outside of yourself.
Why respect is important:
When a child acts with respect, they engage with their teachers and their friends in a polite and courteous manner. Children who are respectful don’t bully or belittle others. They also care more about the environment, animals, and their personal belongings like clothes and toys.
How to teach respect:
- Show respect to your child at all times. Rather than belittle or make them feel “less than,” embrace your child with respect. At Harmony, we show respect every time we interact with your baby or child. We see them each as beautiful, capable human beings.
- Expect respect from your child. If they treat you disrespectfully or say something inappropriate, be sure to correct them and provide them with an example of what to do or say instead.
- Involve your child in caring for animals and their things. Be sure they’re involved in picking up their toys and helping feed any pets. At Harmony, we endorse sustainable practices to nurture children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment.
Self-control affects most of what a child does, including thinking before speaking and managing their emotions and actions. Without self-control, children may interrupt others, rush through school assignments, and have trouble sitting during activities.
Why self-control is important:
If children practice the value of self-control, they will be able to work hard toward their goals, even if they are far away.
In a famous study conducted at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s, psychologist Walter Mischel offered children the choice of eating one marshmallow or waiting a short period of 15 minutes in order to receive two marshmallows.
The children who waited for the second marshmallow demonstrated better life outcomes in academics, health, and finances. They also tended to avoid negative life outcomes like drug use and jail time.
How to teach self-control:
At Harmony, for example, we try to cultivate a child’s self-awareness of their body, feelings, thoughts and attitudes. There are many other ways to encourage your child in the areas of waiting and controlling emotions:
- Clearly lay out expectations: “We might be at Cathy’s house for a while. Bring a of couple toys with you so you have something to play with.”
- Introduce ‘waiting’ phrases during playtime like: “May I borrow your toy?” and, “I’ll wait for when it’s my turn.”
- Offer a break. If your child is upset, give them space and time to calm down and gather their emotions before reacting or speaking.
- Reinforce positive behaviour. If you see your child showing self-control or patience, be sure to praise your child.
Giving your child a foundation of values and goodness is one of the most beautiful and powerful gifts you can ever give them. Over the years, you can watch them grow into strong, confident, good-hearted people who are impacting the world in a positive way.
If you’d like to know more about how we implement healthy values and a code of ethics into our child care centres, we welcome you to book a free tour. Our centre manager will show you our state-of-the-art facilities and answer any questions you may have.
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