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There’s a lot riding on us as parents. We feed, clothe, and give them everything else they need, all with the intent to develop them into well-adjusted adults… and for that, it takes more than making sure they eat their veggies. Every parent’s hope is that their children develop into kind, confident adults who make a positive impact on the world, however large or small the scope of their influence. 

Six Values to Teach Your Child

While we definitely don’t want to limit ourselves to six values alone, these core values (or variations) seem to be

1. Cooperation (Team Work)

Learning to compromise, work as a team, and build friendships is crucial. Successful people always have a network around them that they can rely on and who, in turn, can rely on them. The goal in friendship building definitely isn’t career advancement, but learning how to be a good friend could lead to some work-life success. Having friends helps us feel confident and secure that we always have people to back us up when we take risks.

Things to try:

  • Encourage them to take turns.
  • Do chores together.
  • Praise cooperative efforts.
  • Explain the rules: understanding your reasoning helps them work with you.

2. Kindness

Kindness benefits us just as much as it benefits others. It helps develop a sense of belonging. It also has some positive physical benefits: it boosts your serotonin, eases anxiety, decreases blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone, and can even reduce your chances of getting sick

Ways to model kindness:

  • Volunteer. Set aside some time as a family to donate your time and benefit your community. 
  • Practice random acts of kindness.
  • Play a compliment game. 
  • Offer forgiveness. Similarly, limit your snippy comments. You’ll notice benefits to yourself as well. 

3. Confidence (Self-Worth & Courage)

We can’t think of any parent who doesn’t want their child to be confident and self-assured. After all, we think the world of them, so why shouldn’t they feel the same about themselves? A feeling of self-worth will lead to bold decision making and a sense of feeling ready for life’s experiences.

Try to:

  • Appreciate their effort whether win, lose, or draw. Focusing on the effort helps reinforce hard work while decreasing them putting their own self-worth on their achievements. It also helps them have more confidence tot ry new things.
  • Let them figure it out on their own! When they do, they’ll start realizing that they can trust their own decision-making skills. If you jump in with “let me help” before they even get a chance to start, they’ll realize you don’t believe in their capabilities–and they won’t believe in them either. Instead, let them know you are there to help if they need them, but then let them try it on their own from there.
  • Encourage curiosity.
  • Offer new challenges and avoid shortcuts or making exceptions for your child.

4. Honesty

Honesty and trust are the foundation for any relationship, and this one more than any starts with you. The trust they have in you is innate, and it’s up to you to make sure you don’t betray that trust. Don’t overthink it, though; it’s a matter of open communication more than anything else. If you end up being unable to take them to the museum like you promised, explain in detail WHY. That open and honest communication leads to trust and a sense of unity (we’re in this together) that ends up at loyalty. 

Things to try:

  • Start by being honest yourself. Explain the why’s, where’s, when’s, and what’s of the things you’re doing and telling them.
  • Reward the truth, even if it’s not what you wanted to hear.
  • Give consequences, but be fair.
  • Follow through on promises.

5. Hard Work & Determination 

How often do we hear things like “never give up”? In Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers, he outlines how crucial dedication is: 10,000 hours or more is what it takes to truly master something and that kind of devotion takes some serious work. 

Try to:

  • Start chores early. Get them involved in the household and point out what changed and what happened from their hard work.
  • Praise the effort as opposed to the outcome.
  • Encourage a growth mindset. Let them fail… and celebrate it! Failure keeps you moving forward, while success can make you think you’ve reached the end of the line. 
  • Paired a bit with confidence, teach them to own their mistakes. Yes, they’ll mess up, but help them learn from it.

6. Gratitude

The other social skills seem kind of intuitive: to get along in the world, we have to get along with the world, which means teamwork and compromise. But gratitude can fall by the wayside, especially in hypercompetitive settings. Competition can drive us, but without gratitude, all of our hard work is for nothing. Happiness is our end goal, after all, and without gratitude, we’ll never get there; we’ll always just want more and more and more. For a deeper look at the importance of gratitude, check out our blog post on it.

Some gratitude exercises:

  • Make a gratitude jar. It’ll be fun to decorate, then challenge your kids to think of at least three things every day that make you feel grateful.
  • Carry around a gratitude rock. This one might not be great for the really little ones, but for older kids, get them to carry a small stone tucked away in their pocket at all times. It’ll remind them to thing of something to be grateful for whenever they see or feel it.
  • Gratitude prompts. Start a sentence and get them to fill in the blanks. Encourage them to start with one or two, but as you get practice at it, they’ll probably happily start listing more and more.
    • I’m grateful for [these things] that I hear.
    • I’m grateful for [these things] that I see.
    • I’m grateful for [these friends] that I have.

Encourage them to start with one or two, but as you get practice at it, they’ll probably happily start listing more and more.

Final Thoughts

Each month, Kid’s Village highlights two values of the month to practice, model, and master. We break them down into bite-size pieces through role-play, worksheets, and other games. And after showing us how capable they are, the little learners earn a colorful button to celebrate their achievement. Having these values taught at home AND at school is ideal: as Robert F. Bruner, a researcher at the University of Virginia wrote, “Repetition is the First Principle of All Learning.

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