Just how do you inculcate in your child desirable values? The following six ways are good ideas.

Team work

You and your spouse should work together to model desired values to your child. Role play is very helpful because character building is easier by example. But do understand, values can take a lifetime to inculcate, so manage your expectations.

Be a role model

As mentioned about parenting team work, children look to parents for behaviour cues. Parents are their world, the biggest influencers, the source of love, comfort and security, and so children will become their parents because this is. This is naturally a lot of pressure for you but it works this way because it fundamentally is how humans learn. The reward for this lies in your child having the desired values to face life and you would have successfully inculcated the values of choice.

Decide on the right values  

List your own values and decide if these would be useful to your child. Complete this list and share it with your partner to think through how the teaching can be implemented. 

Reading books

Children’s books are full of interesting stories and characters. After reading a book with your child, discuss the main character. Was he or she brave, generous, kind? Together, list a few words you’d associate with the character and explain their meaning. You can go a step further and hunt down specific books that focus on a value you want to highlight, be it compassion, respect or something else altogether.  The library near you would be your best resource.

Use of persona dolls

Some pre-schools and kindergartens use persona dolls as a tool to teach values like diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance, compassion. Teachers name these dolls and establish the cultural background and personality traits to their students.

For example, one persona doll is named Wendy, wheelchair bound and living with parents, and likes cartoons. Against this background, students come to understand disability and its associated challenges, and exercise the values of love and empathy for one such affected ‘person’.

If your child’s school does use persona dolls for teaching, revisit the learning with your child daily to reinforce understanding and application.

Praise as reward  

An effective way to reinforce good values is praise. Praise signals approval and children constantly seek approval from parents. Affirmation from parents will therefore encourage more of ‘accepted’ behavior or act.

Saying to your child something like, “I am very impressed with how you shared your toys today or tidied up after you have finished playing.” tells your child specifically what to internalize and repeat.

In your process of building good character and cultivating emotional maturity in your child, bear in mind this takes proper effort and can take a lifetime. The foundation you are setting now for your child, however, will determine success of the intent. 

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Contributed by:
Early Childhood Development Agency