“I really want that game that Julia has.” Those were my daughter’s first words after a recent playdate with her friend. I let her know I was listening by saying how fun the game must be, and then quickly moved the conversation on by asking if she’d had a good time. “What else did you do during the playdate?” Later, I realized that I might have missed a parenting opportunity to teach Julia about our family values.
What if I had talked about the games our family has and reminisced about how much fun we have playing them? What if I’d turned her desire to have all the things into an opportunity to see all the blessings she already enjoys?
The most frustrating or disappointing conversations with our kids can be turned into a value lesson when we look beyond the request or complaint and see the value opportunity. Today I’m sharing 3 simple strategies to share values with our kids. Check out these ways to implement your family character goals into everyday living.
Value: Putting Others First
Strategy: Give your child the opportunity to go first and emphasize how happy it makes you when she receives ahead of you.
We don’t have to teach our children how to say, “Me first!”; right? Human nature instinctively is drawn to use the words: me, mine and now. So how do we teach that God wants us to care for others like we would ourselves? Through modeling this concept and talking about the emotions we experience during the process. “I’d like for you to go first, Sweetie. It’s fun to see you enjoy your turn.” The next time, it could be, “You know how fun it is to watch others smile and slide down the slide? Let’s have your friend go first so we can watch her!” Using this positive, proactive parenting strategy is a fabulous way to combat the typical “me first!” attitude.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31 ESV
Strategy: Talk about the things for which you are thankful as you go throughout the day.
Always wanting more is a huge temptation for adults and children alike. You see a new car and want a new car. Your child sees a friend’s new shoes and suddenly, she needs new shoes, even if hers were bought two weeks ago. One of the most wonderful ways to combat the “I want more” attitude is to emphasize being thankful for daily needs met. Using your words to note your gratefulness throughout the day sets a beautiful example for your child. “Aren’t you thankful we have this car, so we can go to visit Grandma?” One way I personally remember to incorporate this strategy is to give thanks during bedtime prayers for a comfortable, safe place to sleep.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. Psalm 86:12 ESV
Value: Following the Rules
Strategy: Use adult life examples to explain how following rules helps everyone.
As we drove through the roundabout, another car pulled out in front of us and my oldest son gasped. “Wow, Mom, he pulled out right in front of you!” “Yes, I know. That wasn’t safe, was it?” I responded. Following the rules prevents accidents and provides a healthy environment. Maybe the next time you’re sitting at a 4 way stop, you can explain the traffic rules of each person waiting for their turn and how important it is that each person do their part in keeping the intersection safe. Or talk about placing the grocery cart in the corral so that the next car trying to park is not blocked. Encourage your child to pick up their toys because a clean, safe environment is good for everyone in your home.
A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. Proverbs 13:1 ESV
Teaching our children the values we long to instill in their hearts is a lifelong adventure, but these simple strategies take those big goals and break them down into small, doable steps. Character building is hard work, but takes place just one day at a time, one moment at a time.
For more help with using daily opportunities to instill values in your kids, your family will love the Little Critter Little Blessings Collection!! This book includes 4 character-building stories that tackle a tough kid concept and provide positive, proactive examples. What a fabulous tool for proactively teaching strong values!
Which of these simple strategies could you implement in your child’s life today?