Families and ...




Managing Time





The Teen Years





How Do They Learn the Hard Stuff? Respect and Other Virtues

Young children learn by being shown actions, by watching others, and through trial and error. The job of parenting has many hard things to teach: respect, kindness, integrity (honesty and fairness) and responsibility. If you just leave it up to chance, it might not just happen. If you take the time to think about what you are doing and reflect on your actions, you just might succeed.

One of the ways young children learn is by observing and imitating your behavior and actions. They get a clear, concrete understanding of what is right and wrong at a very young age. This is learned through your approval and disapproval. They learn honesty and fairness through your encouragement and recognition. What you do and how you encourage your child will help your child learn about what to do and what not to do.

Begin at an early age to teach your child about the feelings and ideas and opinions of others. Find time each day to talk about this. Repeat the messages you want your child to know. Remember to recognize and praise respectful actions. Privately express your disappointment and your disapproval when your child shows disrespect. Help your child learn that everyone has different likes and dislikes. Teach your child to show respect for differences and preferences.

Children learn kindness and compassion through watching you and other adults behaving kindly and sympathetically to others. They learn to understand the feelings and needs of others over time, by watching, and learning to discover their own feelings. Help them by giving them words for the feelings they have: angry, sorrow, happy or silly, just to name a few. Children learn to act kindly and compassionately by learning the skills to communicate feelings of kindness into action.

Use stories to help young children understand the messages you want to get across. Fairy tales, folk tales and religious stories all help children understand the lessons you might want to teach. When you educate a child's mind, you also educate the child's heart.

Find ways for your whole family to give to other children in need. Show kindness and compassion to others in your community, neighborhood, and workplace.

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