July 31, 2007

Values are like Viruses

I once read that values are like viruses because they’re caught in the environment within which they reside. That statement had a powerful impact on me as a parent and brought to my attention that you have to begin teaching your child values from the time they are very small.

Children learn from what they hear and observe so the best way to teach values is to set a good example. Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher and physician, suggests that adults teach children in three important ways: “The first is by example. The second is by example. The third is by example.” If your child grows up observing you being dishonest with yourself and others, this is what your child will imitate.

Tell a story about how you learned a lesson when you were young that will help your child better understand the difference between right and wrong. Kids will listen. Explain your reasons for what you say and how you act. This will demonstrate how you use your values to make decisions.

Have a discussion with your children. Ask them how they would spend $100.00 or what one thing they could do to help someone less fortunate. Share your responses with them. Lead by example during the ordinary interactions of everyday life. The values you share will stay with your children and they will make them their own.

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