Thursday, 25 March 2010

Raising a Child with Strong Moral Values: A Practical Guide

For most parents, raising a good child is easier said than done. It involves a great deal of compassion and patience, not to mention that it takes a lot of effort to imbibe strong moral values to very young individuals.

When teaching kids how to behave in different situations, parents often confuse morality and manners. Lack of manners should not be equated with lack of morals. Morality and manners are two different concepts, even if they both mean treating others with respect. Morality is concerned with conforming to the rules of right conduct. On the other hand, manners are mainly concerned with socially acceptable behaviors - not necessarily with morally right or wrong conduct. For example, not saying “Please” when asking favors or “Thank you” to show appreciation may be a sign of disrespect. Although this behavior may show lack of manners, it is not a sin because it does not violate any rules of morally right conduct. That being said, parents must understand that generations also differ. Morality, as well as manners, changes over time. Any behavior considered inappropriate in the 1960s may be regarded as socially acceptable three decades later.
No person is born naturally good or bad. It is from the environment where children learn values and behaviors. Parents, siblings, teachers, and the media are influential in shaping children’s behavior. Children take their cues from their own experience, their conversations with parents and other adults about behavior, and watching how others behave. As kids grow and develop, they start to form their own moral values.
Raising your children to be moral and aware of what is right or wrong can start as early as the infancy period. Make it a point to tell your kids about feelings by conveying words that express emotions. Also, show empathy while talking to them. Make it clear to your kids that feelings are different from actions. Help them understand that though it is all right for them to feel whatever they are feeling (i.e., anger, pain, sorrow), they should be careful with their actions. For example, if your toddler is angry with his playmate, tell him it is okay to be angry, but he cannot hit his friend. Your children need your guidance on finding ways to resolve conflict other than violence. Talking with your children about the effects of their behavior on other people not only teaches them to be sensitive and compassionate, but also helps develop their social and emotional skills.

As a parent, you are the main role model for your children. Whatever behavior you display, your children assume you’re doing the right thing. So it is very important that you watch your own values and behavior. Do a self-check: Do you respect other people especially in the presence of your children? Do you always consider other people’s feelings? Being a good listener and an open-minded person is a good step for instilling moral values to your children. However, be wary of using humiliation or violence in teaching morality to your children. Aside from hurting them and causing childhood trauma, violence may be used by your children when dealing with anger or frustration toward their peers.

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