Values are often described in two ways, the first being that a person may have a value of kindness or generosity which describes their nature. The second refers to a set of values that an individual would use to navigate in this world, based their own particular value system. Values are not chosen, they are inherent to each individual. Values are fundamental, the are beliefs and convictions that support everything you do.
In our younger years, our parents and close family will become the strongest role models in shaping how we think and behave, and for the most part we will learn through their example. and develop a belief system.
Building a value system
The way children learn values is mostly by observing what you do, and drawing conclusions about what you think is important in life. Regardless of what you consciously teach them, your children will emerge from childhood with clear views on what their parents really value.
Parents are not the only source from which children learn values, peers will influence your them, especially as teenagers and it is healthy for young people to think for themselves and develop their own world-view. However, if they have good self-image and a warm home life, they are more likely to pick friends who are more in sync with those values.
Your values define your character and they impact every aspect of your life including:
Your interactions with family, friends
Your decision-making processes
The direction you take in life.
As a parent it is important to know what you value, why you value it and what significance it takes in your life, and then to identify how this resonates with your children. By being aware of this, you can also understand that your children will each have their own value system based on their own sense of priorities and experiences.
Some pointers on developing a value system with your children :
Be aware of what you’re modelling.
It isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. If you talk about honesty but lie about their age to get a cheaper ticket to the movies, they learn that cheating is acceptable under certain circumstances.
Help your child develop empathy.
Empathy is the foundation of compassion, which is the foundation of values. The only way children can learn empathy is by being treated empathically, and by watching you respond to others with compassion and kindness.
Talk explicitly about your values and why they are important to you.
What is integrity? Why is respectful
behavior important? What do you think of the way the press is covering a particular issue? Helping children interpret the world is a crucial responsibility of parents.
At The Character Company, we reinforce 5 core values that we believe are essential for all children to embrace, namely: Kindness, Honesty, Self-Discipline, Courage and Respect.