12 Core values to teach your child
We've listed 12 values to teach your child that they can learn from in order to become better adults later in life.
What are the values to teach your child that you hold in high regard? If you don’t teach these to your kids, then they will learn from the values of the culture they’re in. Against your wishes, they might learn materialism, discrimination, or a disregard for the environment. Are these the values you want your child to have?
It’s important to instill in our kids a moral compass that will guide them through life. More than anything, this is taught by being role models to them. It will determine their decisions and choices, whether they’re at home, in school, or beyond.
So what are the best values to teach your child that will help them grow into compassionate, responsible adults? Let’s find out.
12 values to teach your child
It’s fairly normal for children to learn how to lie. It is even part of their normal development, experts say, as it is a sign of developing mind.
People are afraid of being hurt, physically and emotionally, and this is even more true for children. They will fear punishment, like being asked to stand in a corner. And they may lie to escape punishment.
So applaud them for telling you the truth even when they’re afraid. Simply saying, “Thank you for not lying,” and giving them a warm hug are enough to encourage them.
Be compassionate when you do catch them in a lie. Help them to realise the consequences of their actions. Say, “Mummy is hurt that you lied to her,” for instance, or you may reprimand by taking away their favourite toy.
Most importantly, teach them the value of honesty by starting with yourself. For example, if you say you will allow them 15 minutes to play with their favourite app, then follow through with the promise. Going back on your word will only teach them dishonesty.
Let them know you will always listen to them, so they don’t have to lie to you.
2. The value of community
We value self-reliance but sometimes this can set people up into an unhealthy form of loneliness.
Self-reliance is better when tempered with the value of community. It doesn’t mean dependence. It just means recognising that there are some things that we can do well with the help of other people. This value asks us to relate to other people in healthy ways and helps us treat them better.
You can build this value in your child by letting them participate in family activities, and asking them for their opinions about minor family decisions. And don’t forget to celebrate their successes along with the family.
Everyone will encounter obstacles in life. So it’s important for your kids to learn how to overcome them. Teach them how to see these setbacks and disappointments as lessons they can learn from.
Once they’re able to overcome these obstacles, it makes them better and stronger, not victims of circumstance.
When they have a problem, listen to them. Show compassion and empathy for what they’re going through, and talk them through their disappointments. Then you can think of solutions with them, and discuss how to move forward, rather than telling them what to do.
This means teaching them to say “no” when they need to. Often, your children will be swept up into decisions that they were pressured into.
Let them know that it’s okay to say “no.” This validates their needs as important as well.
Teaching them this lesson also helps them learn how to take “no” from other people, and how to respect that person’s boundaries.
For example, if they’re complaining that their friends are pressuring them into doing something they’re uncomfortable with, talk them into saying “no.” Ask them if their “friends” are worth keeping if they don’t care enough about how they feel. Tell them that their needs must come first before their friends.
5. Integrity and responsibility
Integrity and responsibility are two related values to teach your child. Help your kids learn how to fulfill a commitment or a promise they have made to the best of their ability.
If they fail to keep a promise, teach them how to apologise first. Then tell them that being sorry isn’t enough. They must also make amends.
Show them this value by how you approach your own commitments. Did they promise to do something you asked them to, but didn’t do it at all? Tell them patiently that you’re a little disappointed, and that they wouldn’t like it if you go back on a promise to them (like giving them candy).
Integrity also manifests in a strong work ethic. If you fail yourself, show them how important the responsibility is for you by apologising and thinking of ways to make amends.
Having integrity means children can grow up to become responsible adults. It’s important for kids to be accountable for the good and bad things they do, whether they are taking pride in the good or making up for the bad.
6. Courtesy and respect
Your kids first learn about respect at home. They learn it from you, their parents. Your kids see it in how you treat other people, so be mindful of how you treat others.
All those things that you want your kids to say, like “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “I’m sorry” are things you should never forget to say. Doing so will reinforce courtesy and respect in your kids. So even when you’re angry or frustrated or sad, make it a habit to be courteous. And when your kids are sad or angry, gently remind them to never forget their “pleases” and “thank you’s.”
Also don’t forget to teach your kids how to respect others’ opinions and property, and how to act appropriately in certain situations.
It’s easy to take things and people for granted. Show your kids how it’s done by appreciating the things people do for you and your family. Your kids will follow suit, and they’ll thank you for that, too.
Teach your kids how to appreciate even the little things in life, like good weather or a nice thing that someone said. If someone said or did something nice for them, remind them to say thank you.
Tell them about how thankful you are too about the little things, like telling them you thank the trees and the plants for producing the food you have. Perhaps the most important thing is to appreciate the things your children do for you. Thank them whenever they help you out or do things with initiative.
Kids are often driven by what they want, so it’s important to show them the value of generosity. Become a role model for them and be generous to your neighbours, friends, and family.
Teach them the value of sharing at home, whether it’s sharing with their siblings, parents, or friends. Show them your generosity by being a role model of generosity. Be generous to your neighbors, or to people who do you a service in shops or restaurants. Once your kids pick up on a value that you practice, it’s easier for them to become generous as well, because they start to see other people as human beings.
9. Forgiveness and Compassion
The best way to teach compassion is to show compassion. This is important, because sooner or later, your kids will encounter people who will hurt them, or people who need empathy from them.
Again, your behaviour sets the example they will follow. So it’s best to hide your frustrations about people and be more compassionate at all times.
When your children see you caring about other people, they will realise that they can care, too. When your children make mistakes, forgive them unconditionally but still set a firm and reasonable consequence for their actions that they can learn from.
When you deal with people who give your a service, treat them with compassion as well. If they fail to that thing you paid them to do perfectly, don’t lash out. Forgive, but still do what needs to be done to solve the problem.
Nobody does anything perfectly the first time. Teaching your kids that failure is okay is one of the most important values you can teach them. Failure teaches us how to do something better, but only if we don’t give up and we keep trying. It also keeps us humble.
You can show them this value in how you approach your own failures and disappointments. Don’t give up! Persevere, and make them see that you’re trying. Once you succeed, they will admire you for it and do the same.
Also, teach them not to compare themselves to other people so much. Tell them that everyone has their own pace, and each person is different. They are not inadequate. And do not, under any circumstances, compare them to other kids.
Let them know that you’re proud of them because they’re still trying. Guide them, but don’t do it for them. Make them trust in their own power and capabilities. And tell them to never give up!
Humility is often overlooked but one of the most essential values to teach your child. They may succeed in their tasks and endeavours but it takes humility to ensure we do not fail in the future.
Pride and arrogance tend to blind us to our own faults, so become a role model to your children and be humble. It can be graciously accepting praise or not holding yourself too much to such high esteem in front of other people. You don’t have to impress anyone, you just have to do good and the rest will follow.
Humility also means having the courage to apologise when they have done something wrong. Show them the importance of a sincere apology by saying sorry to them, sincerely, when you’ve done something wrong for them, like being late to pick them up at school.
This is perhaps the most important value to teach your child.
You teach them this by doing it yourself. By making a connection with them and loving them, you teach them that they are valued, and that they can love in return.
Demonstrate your love and affection for others, especially to your kids. Be thoughtful, caring, and affectionate, and perhaps they might learn the most important lesson of all.
The importance of practicing values to teach your child
More than teaching lessons to your children, it is important that you practice what you preach. This means being a role model. By showing them that you are a person capable of kindness and compassion, you impart values to teach your child to become everything they can be.