How can parents pass on desirable values to their offspring? Here are six things to note about character building in children!
MAKE IT A TEAM EFFORT
With Mum and Dad working as a team and modeling desirable bahaviours and values, character building is a two-way effort between parents and child. It requires time, lots of patience, commitment, goal-setting, positive encouragement as well as a variety of tools ranging from books to persona dolls.
DECIDE ON THE RIGHT VALUES
Give this some thought: What positive values are important to you? What values would you like to pass on to your child? If you were to come up with a basic list of values, what would this look like? For some it would probably include respecting your elders, honesty, tolerance and compassion. for others, the list would comprise a positive learning and work attitude, keeping your word and so on. Once you've got something concrete to work on, discuss with your partner on how you can go about inculcating these values.
BE A ROLE MODEL
Children look up to their parents and they are their first teachers. You are their world, their biggest influence, their source of love, comfort and security. Whether you like it or not, your child observes your actions and models his behaviour after yours because he wants to be like you. How do you communicate with your spouse? How do you manage conflict and stress? Junior is watching and learning. If you value hard work and putting family before self, your child will, too. It can be a little disconcerting for parents to realise they have to consistently demonstrate right behaviours, but keeping at it will reinforce the values you want to pass on. In time to come, you child will start applying these same values in daily life, laying a good foundation for him to be the person you want him to be and pass them on to his own children in future.
READ A BOOK
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 A PERSONA DOLL
Some preschools and kindergartens use persona dolls as a tool to teach diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance, compassion and a host of other values. Teachers will usually create profiles for each doll - its own name, ethnic background and a few personality traits. For example, one persona doll may be named Wendy and it may be wheelchair bound. Wendy lives with her parents and likes cartoons. By sharing these little details, children can better connect with Wendy. Through stories about Wendy, the teacher will initiate discussions about Wendy’s life and how she feels about her disability. The aim of the exercise is to teach children kindness, empathy and open their minds to how others may be different from them but are no less special. If your child’s school makes use of persona dolls as a teaching aid, you can help reinforce the values discussed in class.
An effective way to reinforce good values is to praise your child when he does the right thing or exhibits a positive value. Children constantly seek parental approval and knowing that you’re pleased with their behaviour or actions will motivate youngsters to repeat these actions. Offer comments such as, “I am very impressed with how you shared your toys today or tidied up after you have finished playing.” By being specific about the behaviour or action, children are clear about what habits or traits to internalize and repeat. As you go about patiently building your child’s character and emotional resilience, bear in mind that learning to be a person with a good set of values is a lifelong process. However, the foundation you lay now for your little one will go a long way in making him a well-adjusted adult with a good character armed with a positive set of values.