Actions speak louder than words

All parents have certain values they would like their children to possess. Kindness, generosity, friendship and honesty are a few universal favourites. From infancy, parents share stories that tell of the values and morals they wish to reinforce. Children are given constant reminders to help them grow to become respectful and responsible citizens.

But are children receiving mixed messages? They may be taught the importance of being kind and understanding, but overhear their parents gossip and complain about the neighbours. Children might be told honesty and fair play, but see the adults around them bend the rules to suit their needs.

By turning your family’s values into action, it helps create a solid base on which children can build their own values system. Children learn about compassion when they see you help out a friend who is sick or going through a difficult time. They have a lesson in honesty when you admit to make it right. Seeing your values in action leaves a much more lasting impression than just hearing you talk about right and wrong.

It can also be confusing for children when they see that not everyone has the same values as their family. The rules may be very different at a friend’s home than what they are used to. They may see on TV or read about the personal antics of a favourite celebrity that goes against what they are taught at home. This gives parents an opportunity to not only reinforce the values they want to teach, but also to talk about understanding other points of view.

In some cases, it can teach children how to stand up for what they believe in. As they grow, children will begin to develop and experiment with their own set of values. By consistently putting your family’s values into action at home, parents are able to demonstrate the characteristics they feel are important. Sometimes, parents will see the need to make changes in their own lives to better represent what they believe. Over time priorities may shift, and in the process change some of the family’s values or the ways in which they put them into action.

Having parents who continually reinforce their values in everyday life helps children not only establish a strong set of beliefs, but also understand how these beliefs affect their decisions. By the time they reach their teen years, they will be well equipped to make choices that allow them to put their own values into action.