If only it was easy to instil a decent moral code in our children. If only it was easy to bring them up to have strong values. If only we knew exactly how to help them develop a steadfast sense of right and wrong.
If only. As every parent knows, raising children is very challenging at times and even with the very best of intentions, making the right decisions and choices isn’t always straightforward.
One of the truest things ever said about parenting is that it takes a village to raise a child and parents shouldn’t feel alone when it comes to helping young children develop a strong set of values. There are always other resources to draw on - family members, guardians, teachers or other mentors - who help to set and implement boundaries and limits and who can play a valuable role when it comes to teaching kids about actions and consequences.
Here are some strategies for parents to help their children develop good character and values. Although many of them may seem obvious, it’s sometimes the simplest things that have the greatest impact.
Walk the talk
Children model adult behaviour, so it’s critically important to set a good example in the family home and influence a child in a positive way.
Talk the talk
Children learn through listening - so have regular conversations with them about moral issues and decision-making to help them internalise what good values are and how to live a life doing the right thing.
Manners never go out of fashion
Don’t let standards slip at home. Good manners demonstrate a respect for others and if kids see manners in action in the home, they are more likely to extend that courtesy and respect to others.
Parents should always show respect for other family members - children included of course. When children see and experience a respectful environment, where issues are discussed and resolved in a peaceful way, where everyone is afforded the time and space to have their say without retribution and who share and understand responsibility, they’ll absorb that culture into their value set.
Quality family time
Communal meals, activities, games and even shared domestic chores are all opportunities for parents to engage with kids and help them develop a strong moral code. These are all positive moments where children can absorb and develop a strong sense of family and togetherness. A dedicated family time, wherein all electronic devices are turned off is an easy way to foster a caring, family environment.
Tell the truth
No matter how difficult it is to tell the truth, it’s always better than telling a fib. Honesty is probably the value that sets the foundation for all others and the truth, no matter how hard it is, should be a cornerstone of your family values. Parents should not only encourage the truth, but they need to be approachable, calm and rational in the face of the confession and always willing to praise honesty.
All actions have consequences. Parents should encourage children to continuously make the link between cause and effect (in both positive and negative situations) and in doing so, will help them learn how important it is to be accountable for their actions and to take responsibility.
These are just a few suggestions as to how parents can help with young children and their values - all of which have a common denominator, namely the importance of relationships in a child’s learning experience.
On the subject of learning, the early learning centre that you choose for your child is a crucially important one and in the early learning years, it can be hugely beneficial to enrol your child in a school where parental involvement is encouraged.
The Reggio Emilia pedagogical approach views parents and families as partners, who have a shared goal to educate children. Parents are seen as co-responsible for their child’s learning experience with stable, quality relationships during the early years recognised as being fundamental for later developmental outcomes.
Nido Early School has adapted this approach to the Australian lifestyle and at their various early child care centres across Australia, they cultivate young minds and a love of learning through their co-learning attitude facilitated by industry-best carers and degree-qualified educators. Their educational approach is hugely popular all over the world and you can find out more by visiting www.nidoearlyschool.com.au.