Through their schooling your child will learn comprehension, mathematics, science, and academic study. However, some things children have to learn from their parents. Values like honesty and integrity cannot be gleaned from books. They must be honed from experiences.
Leading by example and demonstrating these values in your daily interactions is one of the best ways of showing your child the importance of character values. Christmas gift ideas reflecting the values you want your child to develop will also shape their personality and character as they develop. These are the five values that every parent wants to instil in their child.
Basic manners like saying “please” and “thank you”, as well as saying sorry when you need to, are not as prevalent across society as they once were. To ensure your child is courteous and respectful, you have to make sure you are courteous and respectful to everyone you interact with.
If someone holds a door open for you, make a point of saying thank you. If you accidentally make a mistake explain to your child what you did and why you need to say sorry (even if that means apologising to your child). These markers of common courtesy will ensure your child is respectful and understands how he or she should treat others, as well as how others should treat them, in their relationships.
Recently, my five-year-old was at the playground and I watched him stand up from his toys and approach another pair of boys playing on the grass. He is usually exceptionally shy and rarely speaks to others unless myself or my wife are present.
Knowing that it does not come naturally to him and that it must have taken courage and bravery to approach the two boys, I made a point of praising him when he returned. It is important not to overpraise but recognizing when your child has done something challenging or taken a step out of the comfort zone is important to encourage them to be courageous and relish challenges.
Children are naturally impatient. While many have learnt the virtue once they reach their teenage years, it is not something naturally acquired. It must be learnt.
You can help your child develop patience by not giving into their requests immediately. If they want a new toy, instead of rushing out and buying it for them, giving them instant gratification, introduce an allowance system and have them save up for the toy over several weeks.
This wait won’t be treated as a punishment as they know they will have enough to buy the toy eventually. But it will teach them the value of being patient.
One of the most difficult things for children (and many adults) is exercising forgiveness. Many never learn the importance of forgiveness and there are plenty of bitter adults that hold grudges and walk around with a chip on their shoulder.
Ensure your child doesn’t become one of these adults in later life by teaching them forgiveness. When your child is upset about something, give them the opportunity to explain why they are feeling hurt.
Exercise empathy and explain to them that you understand, and you would feel hurt in that situation too but also explain that holding onto those negative feelings towards that person will make them feel worse.
If a child lives in a loving home, where food is always on the table, and they are cared for, clothed, sheltered, and clean, sometimes children can begin to take certain things for granted.
Remind your children that not everyone has the same opportunities and benefits they have. A good way of instilling gratitude is by getting your children involved in charity. Every Christmas, in our house, our children choose one toy that they are going to give away to a local charity which sends toys for orphans in Sri Lanka. This helps teach them to be grateful for everything they have and the opportunities they are afforded.