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10 Values You Should Teach Your Young Child

Teaching children values is a vital part of their spiritual and emotional development, and the first place children learn these values is at home.

We often carry the values we learn in childhood throughout our entire lives and they affect our relationships and how we succeed in the world.

Why You Should Teach Your Child Values

Parents are the best example to teach their children. We teach values to help them become the best version of themselves.

Children with strong values have a reference point, a set of guidelines that helps them navigate their relationships with people and the world.

It is through instilling principles in our children that we can move closer towards a world filled with tolerance, love and understanding.

How Children Learn Values

Children learn values primarily by watching their parents’ example, but also through other caregivers, siblings, friends, teachers and those who play significant roles in their lives.

It is so important to set a good example for them.

One of the best ways to ensure you are setting the right example is to practice what you preach. Live your values, don’t just talk about them with your kids.

Kids learn more from what their parents do than what they say.

When Is the Best Time to Teach Morals and Values?

Children are learning from their parents and caregivers long before they are even able to communicate.

It is never too early to model love, kindness and patience.

The 10 Most Important Values for Children

Here are ten values to teach your children: 

1. Honesty

Model honesty for your children. They are very perceptive and will take cues from you. If they see you bending the truth, they will perceive that lying is okay. 

I’m not a therapist or expert on child behaviour but I once read advice to always call out a lie and to never let it slide.

How I handle this with my own daughter is to not make a big issue out of it, but to let her know the lie has been exposed. I might say “Haha, you’re making up a story now” or “That’s not true. What really happened?”

She usually responds with the truth.

When your children are honest about something sensitive – like telling you they hurt a friend – tell them how much you appreciate their honesty, which positively reinforces the behaviour. 

2. Manners

Having good manners is another essential value to teach your children. When they have good manners, they can better interact with people on a daily basis in a considerate and thoughtful way.

The more you practise and use good manners, the more your children will as well.

Child saying thank you

Teaching manners can be as simple as always using please and thank you.

Start modelling manners from the time children are born. Even though they cannot speak yet, they still learn from your actions and will imitate them as soon as they start to communicate.

3. Responsibility

When teaching values to your children, responsibility is one of the top ones to include. When your children grow up, you want them to be dependable, keep commitments, and be accountable.

If you do not teach your kids independence from an early stage, they will have a harder time in the future.  

Start by having them pack their toys away or make their bed each morning. As they get older and can complete more tasks, have them do more chores around the house.

They need to feel a sense of achievement; that they are contributing to their family and the running of their household.

Boy doing the laundry

4. Respect and Tolerance

Teaching children tolerance and respect is so important in today’s world. Make sure to encourage your children to respect everyone, no matter their age, race, religion, sexual orientation, identity, nationality, or any other defining characteristic. 

Most of the world’s problems stem from a feeling of “otherness”, of not respecting others’ rights to their own way of being.

It’s okay to have your own traditions and beliefs as a family, but your children should never believe anyone else’s to be less valid.

This also extends to your own children as they also have a right to their own beliefs and identity, separate from your own.

5. Love

You can never give a child too much love. It is one of the basic emotional needs.  

Let your children see your love for them as well as others in your life. Display affection to your partner or friends when they are around. Share your love both verbally and physically. Never let a day pass without expressing your love to your children. 

The more you give and show love, the more your children will as well.  

It is also important to teach your children to love people for who they are. This will also show them respect for others as well. Love can be present no matter if you agree with the person or not.

Picture of a heart on chalkboard

6. Consideration

Being thoughtful and kind to others will always be a good value to teach your children. You can brighten someone’s day just by being kind.

When you are kind and thoughtful, you are more aware of others’ feelings and can better help someone. You develop a sense of empathy.

If you are generally a considerate person and you are often thinking of others, your children will identify this personality trait in you, and modelling something is always the best way to get the message across.

7. Perseverance

Perseverance and determination are traits that will stand children in good stead in school, work and in life.

Guide your children to solve their problems and try again if they fail. Let them know it’s okay to not always get it right but to just keep at it anyway.

Encourage your children to do something challenging and to try their absolute best. When you praise your children, praise their effort rather than the finished result.  

8. Courage

If you always do challenging things on behalf of children, they will have a harder time developing courage. Even though you want to protect your children no matter what, you will not always be there in situations they may need courage.

Teaching them to face their fears helps them conquer things with courage. 

Teach your children to stand up for themselves. In today’s world, this is especially important.

Encourage them to speak up if they are not comfortable or if something is bothering them. This will help them to ask questions when they are confused in school as well as gain confidence and self-esteem.

9. Justice 

It is essential to teach children to express their feelings; however, it is also equally important to help them learn about consequences.

Instead of merely making children apologise when they have done something wrong, teach them to find ways to rectify the situation. 

Teaching justice will help them to develop their own sense of right and wrong as well as develop an ethical, strong moral compass.

10. Gratitude

One of the most unfulfilling ways to live is to always be in a state of wanting more or waiting for something better to come along. Many people remain stuck in this way of thinking their entire lives.

It’s important to teach children to always appreciate what they have and to celebrate the simplest things – a kind friend, a pretty flower in the garden, a delicious meal.

Happy family playing in the garden

Life is filled with small, everyday moments that are so easy to overlook, and we have to train ourselves to notice and appreciate these moments.

Some of the research on gratitude has shown that it can even improve health and happiness.

Point out to your children what you are grateful for as often as you can, or make a daily habit of listing things you are grateful for at the dinner table.

These are just a few values that your children would benefit from learning.

Making it a priority every day to teach through your actions rather than your words can help children develop strong values they will use throughout the rest of their lives.

Are you a preschool teacher or working in Early Childhood Education? Would you like to receive regular emails with useful tips and play-based activity ideas to try with your children? Sign up for the newsletter!

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Mlondolozi klaas

Friday 24th of November 2023

I recommend this as good program to me as i am a Sunday school teacher who will take courage to give guiding moral principles for the development of a child in and out of the church....

Loretu

Sunday 20th of August 2023

Very helpful. Thanks a lot

Tanja Mcilroy

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

You're welcome, Loretu!

elina

Sunday 2nd of October 2022

it was a rare experience going through the content.i started with basic values and got associated with you .i would like to know more in a systematic way we can get in touch .you can contact me. the address is given below regards elina

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