6/12 Important Family Values for Kids
6/12 Important Family Values for Kids – Every family has beliefs and values that govern how they live and think. Family values are some of the most important social skills that kids need to learn to help develop good peer relationships. Establishing your family values and guidelines for your children are important enough to begin teaching them early. Children growing up without these guidelines will find life hard to navigate. They will often get in trouble for things no-one taught them were wrong. Consequently, we have to help our children learn how to live the values that are important to us. I believe the goal is to build kids of good character.
My original list of 12 values to include would have been too long. So, I’ve included 6 here and 6 more in the next blog.
6/12 Important Family Values for Kids – Social Skills Kids need to Learn
Social skills are simply socially correct behavior; they are the tools for how to act. As such, many of these tools include more than just tangible actions; for example, not hitting someone. They include such intangible qualities as how to care for others, how to be thoughtful, and how to be kind. These aren’t as easy to teach a child.
My goal has always been to help parents understand how social skills can help young children develop better peer relationships. The bonus from learning these skills is that they are better able to reject bullying. However, not everyone sees the relationship between social skills and anti-bullying. Too many people equate social skills with teaching kids to say, “please” and how to hold their fork properly. But social skills are much more than that. And research is now supporting this connection.
1. Respect is a Social Skill
Respect is a social skill in that it is required in most areas of social interaction. The best way to teach respect is to model it. You can begin at a young age at home by respecting the rights, privacy, and property of each family member. If the kids see you respect your husband’s tools in the garage, the kids will do the same. They will learn to respect their siblings’ toys, games, and space. Certainly there may be fights sometimes, but eventually they will learn that respecting a sister’s toy, for example, shows respect for sister and her toy. And, can result in fewer fights and broken toys.
Equally important is respecting the property of those around you. Training your children to not run through the neighbor’s flower garden, upset their trash before trash day, or play basketball at midnight is behaving in a caring, considerate, respectful manner. Respect should also be shown for all the community property we share, such as parks, playgrounds, ball fields, hospitals, and more.
Respecting privacy in families can be taught from an early age. If mommy is in the bathroom and wants privacy, the kids can learn to not disturb her until she is done. For example, teach kids that a closed door means they knock and wait to be invited in. Remind your kids here of The Golden Rule: “If you don’t want your brother barging in while you are showering, don’t do it to him.”
Lastly, showing respect for others includes a teacher, a coach, law enforcement, service men and women, and a host of others. This demonstration of respect often results in respect being shown back to the child. Nothing can make a parent more proud than watching their child show respect to someone and having that person acknowledge what great social skills the child has.
2. Acceptance is a Social Skill
From an early age we teach our young children the social skills basic of saying ‘”please” and “thank-you.” They soon learn they will win our approval or acceptance when they use these words, and our disapproval when they don’t. They learn what is right to do or say, or not, by our responses. It is their desire to please us, have our approval and acceptance, that helps them repeat the skill until it becomes a good habit.
Also at young ages, children discover that boys and girls are different. Sure, there are a few years of their lives where boys are yucky to girls and vice versa, but eventually there is acceptance of their differences and of course, later attraction.
Usually by 3 or 4 or when a child goes out to daycare or preschool, they begin to be exposed to children who are different from them. A lot of what they learn about being accepting of people who are different comes from us, the parents or caregivers. If we make disparaging remarks or shy away from certain groups or individuals, the kids will do the same. In like manner, if we demonstrate acceptance of others, the kids will follow our lead.
Expose your children to all different types of people. Encourage them to get to know kids from different cultural backgrounds, introduce them to people with disabilities and older people. For older kids, Google is a great resource for finding out what their friend’s religious beliefs and customs are all about. Teach them to appreciate the differences in others. Acceptance can lead to friendship, and knowing people who enrich our lives.
3. Generosity is a Social Skill
Our values are the beliefs and ideas that we consider to be important, and that shape and guide the way we live. When we teach a child to share and play fair with another child at home or elsewhere, we are teaching the value of generosity. By definition, generosity means unselfishness, a willingness to give or share with another. The problem comes in when we realize that from birth each of us is programmed to be concerned only about numero uno.
So how do we teach our children to be generous? We start as early as possible. When that first toy is grabbed out of a visiting playmate’s hand, we intervene and explain about sharing the toy. The value of generosity is vague for children to grasp, but with constant reinforcement, they can gradually learn that this is a behavior that pleases you.
For kids, and everyone else, being generous is sharing themselves, their time, and their possessions. In some cases it becomes necessary to not share a certain toy, but rather to put it away and select another. This might be with a playmate who doesn’t take care of things. Similarly, prepare your child for this same scenario with another child’s special toy.
Encouraging generosity in your kids will be easy when they see your kind, generous attitude toward others, especially those less fortunate. Think of all those lemonade stands where kids are raising money for worthy causes. “After You” is a concept to be encouraged in young children. Literally, this means allowing a friend to go first on the slide, have the last cookie, or pick the game to play. Figuratively, it is encouraging children to think of others before themselves.
4. Honesty is a Social Skill
Every child wants to have friends and be a friend. Honesty is a value and social skill that helps secure those friendships. After all, who wants to play with someone who cheats at a game, steals a toy, or says one thing, then does another. I’m reminded of my mother telling me that if I admitted doing something wrong, told the truth, then the punishment would be less severe. I used the same strategy with my 2 daughters. They soon learned it was in their best interest to be honest.
So what does honesty really mean? My 4 dictionaries which are age/grade appropriate for my curriculum development essentially say the same things: honesty is being truthful; not lying, cheating, or stealing. It is being what you appear to be; genuine, real or straightforward. The trick here is helping children learn to live this value in their everyday lives.
Honesty is also being trustworthy and reliable. When inviting a friend over to play, don’t leave that friend and go do something else. When asked to clean your room, do it without grumbling and do it well. In addition, keeping promises is part of being honest. We want to be sincere about the words we speak, the things we promise. Plus our actions demonstrate honesty. Telling a friend you’ll meet them at the playground then not showing up is dishonest. That can hinder or ruin friendships.
In conclusion, no discussion on honesty would be complete without addressing the greatest need for kids to be open with parents and caregivers. Encourage your kids to be open and honest about their feelings and what is going on in their world. Too many kids today are suffering in silence from bullying, especially cyber-bullying. Provide a safe atmosphere for them to share with you.
5. Compassion is a Social Skill
Introducing values as social skills indicates the importance we place on having our children learn caring ways to behave. When we consider compassion to be a social skill that puts the emphasis on training children to think of others first, before themselves. That is not always easy, since every child is born with a desire to satisfy his/her own wants and needs before considering those of someone else.
A child who is raised to think only of himself, doesn’t learn to share, take turns, or is spoiled, will have difficulty relating to other kids when going to school. This child may soon find that he is excluded by peers. This can lead to his being bullied, or becoming a child who bullies. Caring and empathy are key in kids being able to get along with others and thrive in a variety of social situations. Compassion is a value and social skill kids need to learn early so many negative scenarios can be avoided.
As you model caring, compassionate behavior, your kids will follow. Taking a meal to a sick neighbor or helping at a homeless shelter are easy examples kids can do with you. Your kids will learn that they can help as well, such as donating toys they no longer play with. Help them understand what compassion means in their everyday lives; at home, in school and wherever they go.
A fun exercise to get this point across to kids is swapping shoes with another child so they can experience what someone else is going through, ie. “Walking in someone else’s shoes.” This is a fun way to get kids to be more aware of others; their feelings, issues, and problems. In short, kids will be better able to respond to others in kind, caring and compassionate ways.
6. Cooperation is a Social Skill
Cooperation is a social skill in that it is a key ingredient in helping social interactions run more smoothly. Cooperation is needed in the workplace, in school, on the playground, on your team, or in your family. Cooperation and its accompanying give and take can determine how well we get along with one another in all the places where we are interacting socially.
Sibling squabbles are often the first time you’ll see a need for cooperation. It’s important to teach young children how to cooperate before going to preschool or daycare. Once in school, their inability to get along with other students, teachers, or coaches, presents problems for them and for those who have to deal with them.
I’m reminded of two focus groups we conducted with parents reviewing our Cool Kind Kid materials. We asked how they perceived the need for social skills training for young children. I was surprised to find that almost all of these parents were afraid that their kids would be blackballed because of their behavior. They were fearful their child would be excluded, one of the most prevalent forms of bullying. However, this is preventable with early social skills training.
We see cooperation in working together to achieve a goal, whether a team effort, school project, or community outreach. It means playing by the rules, doing your part, and on time, doing your best and not letting others down. Helping kids learn and live with cooperation will have a positive impact on their future lives, especially in the workplace.
6/12 Important Family Values for Kids – Resources
The Award-Winning Cool Kind Kid CD is 17 original songs, each teaching a different social skill. Look for many values included in this fun, engaging music: https://coolkindkid.com/music/
Here are some resources to expand this information. The first is from Dr. Laura Markham, AHA! Parenting, whose newsletters I routinely publish on the Cool Kind Kid Facebook page. https://facebook.com/coolkindkid
6/12 Important Family Values for Kids
– Part 2
These are the 6 values that will be covered in the next blog:
Responsibility is a Social Skill
Fairness is a Social Skill
Tolerance is a Social Skill
Perseverance is a Social Skill
Self-discipline is a Social Skill
Friendliness is a Social Skill
© Barbara Gilmour