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Teaching Values To Our Children

​As parents, we want our children to be honest, decent, caring individuals. Simply hoping our children will naturally acquire these skills is not enough. They must see what it means to be honest, courteous and generous. After all, children learn what they live.

You are the best person in your child's life to teach values and model positive behavior. Here are a few everyday situations that provide opportunities to shape your child's character.

  • Household chores - If you ask your child to perform certain household duties such as taking out the trash or cleaning his or her bedroom, show your child how to do it (the behavioral steps) and clearly explain your expectations. When children know how to complete a task and take care of their personal belongings, they learn what it means to act responsibly.
  • Nightly homework - Study time at home should be part of your child's weekly routine. Set clear expectations for completing homework (assignments must be done before watching TV or playing a game). When children do what they are supposed to do, even when they don't feel like doing it, they develop character.
  • Meal time - Sitting around the dining table should involve much more than breaking bread. Whether you're reminiscing about your youth or your child is discussing the events of the day, family "table talk" is for sharing and relationship building. You'll be surprised at how many of the stories serve as metaphors about values, discipline and character. Point those lessons out to your children so they can relate true-life events to those abstract ideals.

As you see, the everyday moments of life offer opportunities for us to teach children positive values. However, all the teaching in the world can be undone if our kids watch us behave in ways that contradict everything we've said. If you want your children to learn honesty and sincerity, then be truthful and act kindly.

For more information on this topic, look in Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen.

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