HOW DEFINING CORE VALUES CAN INFLUENCE CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR
Our six-year-old grandchild lives with us, and we have been revisiting parenting techniques to try to minimize a few of his less desirable behaviors. With the advice of a parenting specialist, we were challenged to select
five core values that we want our family to embrace. During this summer we will take each value, one at a time, and find concrete examples of how that value plays out in our daily routines. For instance, if our value is
we will select concrete examples of how we can be responsible at various times of the day. And when one of us is being responsible, we will label the action and recognize that he/she is being responsible at that moment.
In the morning we each have our routines or
responsibilities that help us get ready for the day. Someone makes breakfast, another person sets the table, we clear our dishes, we brush our teeth, we make our beds, and we gather the things we will need for the day. Now instead of just doing all of these things, we will make a list of each of our responsibilities and have a concrete picture of what the word
responsibility means for our family in the mornings. We will do similar lists for how our responsibilities change throughout the day, all the way to bedtime.
The concept underlying this exercise of selecting core values and then identifying what they mean in your family is that the child learns the definition of the value and that it is a value that is important to you. You then demonstrate how you can be a family that works together and cooperates to live the value. In the course of this interactive work, children understand that rules are necessary in order to stay safe and to live together happily. And they experience the joy of being a part of a family unit – a team.
The family values we have chosen to define and live out this summer are
responsibility, honesty, kindness, acceptance and self-control. We plan to spend two weeks concentrating on each value. Hopefully we will be able to keep on track with each of the previously learned values so that by the end of the summer all five values will be clearly lived out in our daily lives.
This may seem a bit structured for your family at the moment, especially for younger children. But it’s not too early to think about some core values that you will want to clearly communicate to your children within the next few years. As your children grow, you may add more values to the list.
Our hope is that the thoughtful and intentional expression of values in our household will lead to increased cohesiveness and fewer moments of frustration. Wish us luck!