One way to help your children internalize these characteristics is to notice them. When you see your child being responsible, honest or showing compassion, comment on it. For example, if your child attempts to comfort a child who is hurt, you can say “That’s kind of you to help him.
Caring About the Good
There is a big difference between knowing about moral values and actually trying to adopt the traits. Often standing up for your morals takes courage and strength.
After your family has selected your top five values, find examples of how you’ve demonstrated those in the past. Your kids may want to create a poster for each value with pictures and examples of that value. Leave space to add more examples.
Next encourage each person commit to one value they want to focus on for the week. Check in daily with each other to see if there was an opportunity to act on that value. What happened? How did it feel? What did you learn?
Asking your kids these questions sends the message that you care about these values. Like adults, your kids will make mistakes and act in ways that don’t represent their highest values. When this happens, help them find a way to make amends. Ask questions to guide your kids in figuring out what they would like to do to make things better.
Doing the Good
Your kids will have daily opportunities to choose to act on their values. Behaving ethically requires a strong moral conviction.
It’s a proud moment when your children choose to show compassion and take responsibility for speaking up.
During a middle school basketball game in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the kids demonstrated their moral convictions.
“The student athletes stood up for one of the team's cheerleaders when they heard some derogatory words directed toward her during a basketball game at Lincoln Middle School. Chase Vazquez, Scooter Terrien and Miles Rodriguez walked off the court in the middle of the game to address the mean-spirited comments directed at cheerleader Desiree Andrews, who has Down syndrome.” Wow!
It’s not always easy to stay in control of your words and actions. My son’s cross country coach taught the kids to use the acronym THINK before they speak or act by considering:
- T- Is it true?
- H- Is it helpful?
- I- Is it inspiring?
- N- Is it necessary?
- K- Is it kind?
This simple acronym helps kids pause to consider the impact of their words and actions beforehand.
While your children will have many influences on their moral development, you play the biggest role. You are their first teacher. They look to you to learn how to act in the world.
While your words are important, it will be your actions that will teach them the most.
How are your actions guiding your children in living up to your highest values