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Most parents want to teach their children correct values, because doing so protects them from negative societal influences and lays the foundation for them to become good citizens.
Driven by economic considerations and the need to provide for their families, many parents are spending longer hours at work and less time teaching their children. As a result outside influences such as peer pressure, social media, television, movies, video games and music are shaping the perspectives of their children more than ever before.
To counter these influences talking to children about what's right and wrong, and what constitutes good behaviour has never been more important. These conversations should take place on a regular basis so the topic of right values becomes completely "normal". That way when your children face moral conundrums, they are likely to be more comfortable broaching the subject with you than with their peers.
There are many ways to weave lessons about values into your everyday interactions with your children. Following are 10 practical suggestions that could help.
One of the most important things you can do is set a good example. If children are going to exhibit values like honesty, self-respect and compassion, these qualities need to be demonstrated in the lives of the parents. Children won't become convinced there is something wrong with lying if they hear a parent tell their boss they are sick when they don't want to go to work, or if the child is told to tell a caller a parent is not at home when they are.
Not only do parents need to acknowledge their mistakes to their children, they also need to apologise and tell them they are sorry. This not only shows respect for their feelings, but demonstrates how to respect others and accept responsibility for mistakes.
Almost every day something happens that provides an opportunity to teach children about values. For example, if you and your children are at the grocery store and the cashier hands you a $10 bill for change when it should have been a $1 bill and you make them aware of the mistake, that is an ideal time to discuss the value of honesty.
Plan some Bible studies with your children, exploring different moral virtues, such as honesty, compassion, gentleness or generosity. This shows what you are teaching them is not simply your own ideas, but comes from God's Word. Bible studies devoted to biblical personalities, focusing on their particular character strengths when facing tests and trials also teach important values.
Most of us can recall experiences that taught us some valuable lessons. Sharing these stories with our children, especially those that illustrate how you made choices consistent with good values, is an important teaching tool.
For example, you might tell of a time when you stood up for your convictions rather than going along with the crowd and befriended a classmate at school whom everyone else was teasing, or turned in a lost wallet rather than keeping the money for yourself.
It is also important to help them learn from your mistakes so that they don't have to suffer the same consequences you did.
If your child has done something wrong, you may be tempted to try to "make things better" by going to the principal, or by paying for the broken window, but don't. If you rescue your children every time they make a mistake, they won't learn to take responsibility for their actions. They need to know bad choices result in unpleasant consequences.
If your children commit to doing something, they need to follow through. Encourage them to finish the projects they start, so they develop perseverance and responsibility. You don't want them to become quitters.
Encourage your children to help others whenever they can. Simple acts of kindness, such as making get-well cards for people who are sick, befriending shy or new kids at school, or opening the door for a mom pushing a stroller can help your child develop an attitude of service and consideration for others.
There will be a lot less "unlearning" needing to be done if a child’s exposure to wrong ideas is minimized. Consider putting computers in areas where the family congregates together. If your children do have computers in their bedrooms, install parental controls so they can’t visit sites you don't want them to see.
Televisions should also be placed where the family is together. "Co-viewing," as this is often referred to, can be a very effective way to filter ideas coming into your home and, if something questionable comes up don't be shy about offering your comments during the program or even turning it off.
When your children do the right thing, let them know how pleased you are. Thank them for cleaning their room without being asked or doing their homework without grumbling.
Children grow up very fast and a wise parent will arrange their schedule so there is consistent quality time with the family. Don't let yourself get so busy you stop having 'real' conversations with your children.
The Good News Magazine