Inculcating Essential Values in Children: Teaching Manners, Honesty and Respect
Children bring so much joy around, and a well-mannered child is even more pleasant to have around. A child who has learnt to understand a situation and behave in an appropriate manner, communicate their needs clearly and can easily adapt to sudden changes, makes things very easy for the parents. However such behaviours don’t come naturally to children, the parents, teachers and adults around have put in the effort to teach their child what is expected of them.
Socially acceptable behaviour, good manners, social etiquette and essential values amongst others are things that need to be actively taught to the child on a day to day basis and over a period of time. It is better to begin training and teaching your child at a young age as they are quick to learn and pick up things easily. With older children it is more difficult as they have to unlearn the undesirable behaviour and then re-learn the appropriate expected behaviour, this requires a lot more effort.
There are a few basic yet important values for children to learn and internalise as they grow up. The best way to approach these is in a step by step manner while constantly being on the lookout for teachable moments in everyday life.
Let’s look at some values to inculcate in your child, as well as how to teach these values to your child –
- Being Honest –
- Being accountable –
- Being Curious –
- Being Respectful –
- Empathy –
- Determination –
- Open Communication –
Honesty is one of the most primary values for kids to learn. This can be taught simply by modelling honest behaviour as much as possible. Children are keen observers and if they see parents dealing with every situation in an honest and proper manner they will pick up those values too. It is important for them to see you being honest even in awkward situations. Children absorb things easily and don’t understand the nuances of a white lie, perhaps said to spare someone’s feelings, to them a white lie is also on the same level as any other lie.
Being an honest person and always telling the truth is not easy and very often it can also put us in an uncomfortable or difficult situation. We need our children to understand that despite all of this, in the long run it is always better to be honest. As parents, be mindful and model honest behaviour as often as possible and remember to praise your child for being honest.
If children lie, it could be because they are either protecting themselves or someone they care about from getting into trouble or from being punished. The best way to handle this situation is to be calm and give your child an opportunity to explain themselves and to be honest after you’ve caught them telling a lie, tell them that you appreciate their honesty, but they still need to face the consequences of their wrong doings.
Like with honesty children need to learn about being held accountable for their words and actions. Accountability is a way to get children to learn appropriate behaviours and to know what is expected of them. As parents we need to start grooming our children while teaching them their expected behaviour as well as the rules they need to follow and the consequences of breaking them.
Part of teaching young children accountability for their actions and decisions is to explain things to them so that they are able to make the right decision even when parents are not around. There is no general rule or a set method for teaching accountability, these values need to be inculcated in the child on a situation to situation basis helping the child understand how it aligns with the values they follow. As the child grows older it does become more difficult especially when teaching morals to kids and helping them follow their values even in the face of peer pressure. A good way to reinforce accountability is to gently keep reminding our children of the values we believe in, and that their choices will either have good or not so good consequences
Being curious is a wonderful quality that children already have. They love exploring and asking questions as they see and experience things for the first time. Children love to learn using their senses, it helps them understand and assimilate their surrounding environment. If you’re wondering how to teach this value to your child? The answer is as simple as ‘try looking at the world from their eyes’, answer their questions in a simple manner and refrain from giving too much information, join in their curiosity and ask them questions like “what would happen if I put my hand in this bucket of water? This small stone? This leaf? This plastic toy? And share in their joy as they see what happens.
As your child grows older the questions will become more difficult or awkward, and there will be times you feel pressured to answer the questions, or you are too tired to answer them or quite simply you don’t know the answer. So, instead of snubbing them and cutting their curiosity short, try distracting them with something else and then perhaps answer them when you are up for it. Feel free to say “let me think about it and get back to you” or to honestly say “I don’t know, let’s find out together”. Your child will feel values and you can embark on a wonderful journey of discovery together.
Respect is another must learn value for children as it will go a long way in benefiting your child throughout their life. Respecting others shows that you care for them and value what they have to say. By waiting your turn to speak, standing in line for something, helping our elders, talking politely, taking care of our things, of others things and public property are a few ways to begin teaching respect.
Once children understand the importance of being respectful and as they get older, they can then be taught other forms of respect which would include listening to what another person is saying and accepting that it is possible for different people to have opinions that don’t match our own.
During a family discussion, get your child involved. Let them experience first-hand that even though everyone is from the same family, they can still have different points of view to share. Having a viewpoint that differs from our own is normal and acceptable and by listening and respecting what the other person has to say they may even learn something new and valuable.
Teaching our child empathy would mean teaching them to recognize and understand what another person is going through in a particular situation. When we teach this value to our children, we help them identify and feel things that another person is feeling in a particular situation. Empathy teaches our child to be sensitive to the feelings of another person thereby helping them to form a relationship and a bond with people that they regularly interact with, especially their friends. The best time to teach your little one about empathy is when they are playing. There are a lot of teachable moments that occur when children play, through play children’s social development also takes place while they interact with their friends or with their toys.
Talk to your child about the sick teddy they are nursing back to health, how did teddy get sick? How is Teddy feeling? How can we help Teddy get better? Asking questions like these will get your child to relate to their own experiences and reflect them on the teddy bear, this is a stepping stone towards developing empathy. If they throw something and it hits you or a toy nearby, say “ ouch, that hurt” or “ouch, I’m sure Elly your elephant got hurt“ and give your child a chance to respond. Talk to them about it. You can also talk about feelings of a character after reading a story book or about how their friend may have felt after a fight. Children need practice to help them recognize their own feelings and then project them onto others thereby enabling them to empathise. Learning empathy will make them more caring, and will help them in their social interactions as they get older and begin making friends.
Determination is the ability to keep on working on a particular activity even when faced with many obstacles. This value is normally associated with a bold child or for sports, but there is a lot of determination required even in our day to day living. Children will gradually learn that success doesn’t come easily, there is a lot of hardwork and perseverance, trial and error involved. There will also be situations that will make them nervous and scared, but with the right encouragement and determination they can definitely succeed. In most cases the focus needs to be on the process and the end goal not only on winning.
Encouraging your child is very different from hovering around them and ready to prevent any mishap. The best you can do is give your child the space to do things on their own, prevent any obvious dangers and be there should they need you. Falling down, scraping a knee, failing at something the first time round is all part of the process and worth the pain when your child has the broadest smile on finally being able to cycle by themselves, being able to go all the way to the other side of the jungle gym, or being able to swim without a float.
Determination and persistence will go a long way in helping your child achieve their goal and will be very beneficial in their later lives as well as long as they realise that it is okay to be scared and nervous, to fail a few times, to make mistakes, as long as they learn from it and move further.
Open communication is a quintessential value that you can encourage in your family. Children need a safe place to open up and talk about things, share their thoughts, wants, needs, opinions, concerns openly and freely. Encouraging open communication right from the beginning will lead to well-adjusted and confident children as they grow older and older into adulthood.
Open communication needs to be fostered right from early childhood, with children being able to talk about their day, anything new they learnt in school, perhaps something unfortunate that they saw -like a classmate falling sick. Building communication skills like this would also give the child a safe avenue to talk about things concerning or troubling them especially in later teenage years, giving parents a chance to help them manoeuvre through all the ups and downs. Even shy and quiet children can be given one-on-one time to encourage them to share what they have to say.
Instilling values in our children is a slow and steady process, gradually increasing in intensity as our children grow older. AS parents we need to ensure that these values are put into practice as much as possible for them to be fully internalised that it comes about naturally to them.
At Eurokids, we believe in the importance of teaching and instilling good and wholesome values in young children. Essential values that will prove beneficial to them as they grow older and make them productive members of a civilised society. Our teachers gently nurture, guide and instil these essential values in our young children on a daily basis. The children are given plenty of opportunities to practise what they have learnt. Click here to find a centre closest to you and enrol your child in an environment created for their betterment.