Teaching Morals and Values

All parents want their child to become a good human being. Someone who is compassionate, caring, respectful, honest and has many other virtues that help her become a better person in life. Help make this desire become a reality by being active in your child�s moral development.

Today�s Scenario
Parents in today�s time have become very busy. Either they are both working or, as in almost 30% of American homes, there is just one parent who must work in order to support the family. As a result, children often become responsible for filling their time in their own way, frequently with television and video games. While there are certainly quality TV programs and educational video games available, you cannot always be sure that these forms of media are the ones your child is exposed to.

It is difficult to say that watching programs or playing digital games that are violent and full of sexy images will automatically make your child violent, have bad manners, or promiscuous. But it can give your child the wrong impression about how to earn respect in society and what type of morals are valued. Additionally, it is much harder for your child to understand why some of the things he is seeing are wrong if you do not take the time to explain it to him.

To make the future and society a better place, it is up to the present generation of adults to take out the time for their kids, get to know them, share their life and build a strong character that is not hassled by outside evils. Like teaching your child to walk, moral education requires you to hold your child�s hand as they take those first steps and to help her up again if she stumbles and fall.

Who are the Teachers
Many parents believe that when there are the schools, churches and so many law and orders to teach manners, their role in a child�s life is just not as relevant when it comes to imparting moral values. This is in fact not true.

Children are usually closest to their parents. From the moment your child is born, you are the one who is influencing his life the most. What he eats, drinks, where he goes, what he wears, every little thing in his life is your decision. This is why the responsibility of teaching your child �how to behave� and passing on your family values is also something you carry right from the moment you become mom and dad.

School, teachers, the church can all teach a number of useful lessons to your child, but for most cases, these should not be the first place your child hears about or learns about a particular aspect of life. They should only reinforce something your child has learned from you. Character building of any child has to start from home.

The Right Age
A child learns a lot of things while growing up by observing, listening, and watching the world around him. Every little thing that you do is something he would like to follow too. So the right age for teaching a child about morals and ethics is actually any age when they start asking questions. It may be 2 years, 3 years or maybe even one year if she has already started talking. The only difference is what you teach and how you teach at a particular age.

Toddlers and Preschoolers: At this age, children mostly learn by the reward/punishment method. They understand good and bad or right and wrong by your reaction towards their action. If your boy hits another child in the face while playing, you may tell him that it is wrong to hurt someone like that. In the same way, if he keeps his toys at a proper place you may give him a hug and praise him in front of everyone.

These small things can help a child get the first knowledge of life�s virtues. While he probably won�t understand that you just taught him to be non-violent and praised him for being tidy, he does realize the good and bad of things and may become a little careful the next time he does something that he knows will annoy you.

The most important thing for you to remember as a parent is that this particular method of teaching is not a lifetime rule. Once the child starts going to the school and, more importantly, once he develops a viewpoint of his own, you can�t keep punishing him for every wrong deed.

Adolescent: By this time, children need to learn things in a different way. They need reasoning for everything. They need to be treated like adults and they need you to listen to what they have on their mind. It is also a stage when they learn and are influenced by a lot of different things from outside sources, like friends and television. Although it can be hard, sometimes you may need to let them do what they feel like in order to allow them to learn from their mistake.

It is common for parents to find that their teenager begins to shut them out and stop communicating with them at this stage. However, if from the very beginning you build an open atmosphere in your, your child is more likely to share things with you. And if they let you into their life, even just a little bit, then this stage of pre-adulthood may not be quite as much of a problem.

Building the Character of Your Child
The home and he family is the first place a child should learn and develop their personal values family. By setting a good example, and making it clear what you value, you can expect that your child will follow in your footsteps.

Commitment � If you want your child to be truthful at all times but then ask her to tell a lie, the purpose of moral teaching may never be met. The more determined you are from your very core to guide your child into doing the right thing, the easier it will be for you to follow this path.

A role model � If dad leaves his toilet seat open, son does the same. If mom does not say hello to neighbors, the daughter is unsocial too. Whatever you do, remember someone is constantly watching you. Words are usually not as effective to children as actions and when they see you doing a good thing, they will surely follow.

It is also this particular point that makes it so important for parents to teach children their morals. Children are not living with the pastor or teachers in school who tell them moral stories. They are living with you, and are observing you more than anyone else. Also, as they are emotionally more attached to you, what you do, whether it is right or wrong, is most probably what they will do when they grow older.

Share your stories and beliefs � Every family has some great stories where grandpa or an uncle proved to be courageous or kind. Share these anecdotes with your children. Let them know more about the family and what it believes in. If there are some customs in your family, make sure the kids are a part of it.

Every once in a while, it is good to let your child know just your own values are. When you share these thoughts, it not only helps your child to understand better the beliefs he must inculcate, but also gives you an idea of what you want your child to learn.

Don�t miss learning moments � You cannot plan out lessons of moral values on a day to day or a timetable basis. If your child�s classmate is not well, that may be the right moment to teach her how to care for others, and be compassionate by visiting this friend and giving her the class notes. Your daughter will likely remember this incident better than you directly telling her to care for others.

Learning from mistakes � There will always be times when your child does something wrong. While punishment may be part of your plan of action, it may also be a good idea to reflect on the deed after sometime. Ask you child to answer questions like "What was it that you did wrong?" "What else could you have done?" "If this happens again, what should you do?" This will help your child understand his mistake and discipline himself to do the right thing the next time.

Research has also shown that if you describe the effect on a person because of your child�s conduct, like �see you made her cry,� a child better relates to the situation as they can place themselves in that position.

Make moral behavior a habit � Encourage your child to do a good deed everyday. This may be helping you in the kitchen, helping someone cross the street, or giving to the poor. When all these things become a part of the routine, your kids will automatically grow to become good citizens.

Set the standards � Your child should know what is expected of him at home or outside. This helps him discipline himself to be well mannered and eventually follow these habits without your guidance.

The process of teaching your child morals and values of life may not seem that simple at first, but once she gets the understanding of it, it should be no surprise if later you are the one who is taught a lesson by your child!

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