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What Values Are You Teaching Your Children?

October 06, 2021

Do you yell at your partner when you’re having a disagreement? Don’t be surprised if your child yells when frustrated or upset.

As a parent, everything you say and do is absorbed by your child, who learns values through the repeated phrases and habits heard and practiced in the family home. What you are teaching your children?

Understanding Values

Values are the beliefs and ideas that are important to us, and families often value many different things.

Children learn at an early age that certain behaviors, traits and beliefs are more desirable than others. For example, the rhyme, “take a bath, brush your teeth, feels so good from head to feet,” shows your child that you value hygiene.

Words Teach Values

The things we repeat to our children have power. Simple, memorable phrases are effective for teaching values. A few short phrases will help keep your family on track, including:

  • Good choices mean good things.This phrase encourages good behavior while hinting at consequences for bad behaviors.

  • Kindness costs nothing. This shows that we should be polite and respectful even when we disagree.

  • Everyone gets something; no one gets everything. This teaches children they won’t always get what they want.

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This saying affirms overcoming adversity and teaches resilience. 

Habits Teach Values

Habits are repeated behaviors that mold and inform children about what’s important to you.

Without directly having a “teachable moment,” children learn what we value by observing our habits. We often underestimate the value of repetition. Do your daily habits teach the things you value? If not, it’s time to change your habits.

Consider practicing these healthy habits:

  • Cleanliness. Ask everyone to wash hands before eating.

  • Punctuality. Be on time, or early, when picking up your children.

  • Education. Choose a space for homework and help keep it quiet when your child studies.

  • Gratitude. Find a time to collectively share what you are thankful for, rather than dwell on what is missing. 

Your Hidden Values

Ask your family if there are phrases or sayings you are known for. Their answer will reveal what your family is hearing, which may not be what you intend to teach. Repeated phrases show what you focus on — the hidden values you are teaching to your children. Once you learn what your family thinks you value, ask yourself if you are crafting the values you want your children to have.

Values can be taught throughout your child’s years at home. It’s important that you, as the parent, take the time to pass on family wisdom and the values you cherish. 

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