We live in
a world where we can outsource everything. We can outsource shopping,
by shopping on-line, we can outsource homework and lift-schemes
by hiring an au-pair, we outsource cooking by buying food ready
cut, ready washed and ready made, we can outsource laundry by
having a domestic worker, and we can even outsource education
by leaving it up to the teacher. But there is one area that cannot
be outsourced: Teaching children values. Why? Because these come
from you. Values cannot be taught in your absence. For this you
have to be present. You have to take responsibility. You have
to have the intention, the plan, and the practice.
But we also
live in a microwave world. We upgrade computers not because they
are better quality but because they are faster. This creeps into
the world of parenting too. Where we want our children to be moral,
civilized and sociable human beings in a week. We don’t
value the process of growth, the process of change and the time
it takes. A Jewish philosopher, Rabbi Tatz, said that it is important
for children in our generation to plant a garden. They are exposed
to so much instant gratification that they need to get back to
basics. To see that sometimes things take time. That you plant
today but you only see the benefits in few weeks time.
how do we teach our children values?
we teach by example. Psychologists call this Modeling.
We do not trust that children will do what we say. Children do
what we do. Education is about modeling. But what we want to build
in our children is often what we have to work on in ourselves
too. So if we want them to have respect for elders then we have
to show them how respectful we are of those older than us. If
we want them to be honest we have to be honest in our own communications.
We cannot tell them not to lie; we have to show them what this
means. This reminds me of an example when a mom went to the supermarket
and her 5 year old was whizzing around the shop with her trolley.
She bashed into the chutney and it broke. When her mom acknowledged
the mistake, went to the office and offered to pay for it she
taught her daughter an important lesson: to be honest and to take
responsibility for her actions. This is teaching values. If mom
gets angry and shouts at her daughter all the way to the office,
then there is a different kind of learning going on. Then her
daughter learns that mistakes cannot be tolerated. That her mother
gets cross when she makes mistakes. So, we need to be careful
about what we model because children learn from what we do and
not from what we say.
children values is based upon good communication skills.
If you think back to your school days, who were the teachers you
respected the most? Who were the teachers you learnt from and
you worked for? In most cases, it is more about the relationship
than the subject. Your children will learn from you when there
is a space to explore, a space to share their own thoughts and
ideas without fear of criticism. For this we have to create that
space. How? Listen to your child’s feelings. All too often
in communication, we are so busy trying to think about our own
responses that we never get to hear what others are saying. So
we stop sharing and what you have is two monologues between two
people. This is not communication. Listen to what your children
say. Follow feelings. Acknowledge your child’s feelings.
This gives him the opportunity to feel understood This doesn’t
mean you agree with him, but it means that you give him the space
to be understood.
In this way,
he learns respect. He learns that you respect his feelings. You
don’t always do what he wants, but you respect his inner
experience. This models effective communication for all, and builds
an emotional bank account. Your teenager wants to go out with
her friends to a club. She knows you don’t approve. To hold
onto this value will be determined by the quality of your relationship
with you as parents. But the quality of the relationship we build
with our children starts from the cradle. You need to keep channels
of communication open. How do you do this? Connect! Listen to
are synonymous with boundaries. When you teach your child
honesty, you are setting the boundaries against dishonesty, lying
stealing and cheating. Boundaries are an important part of self-control.
Self-control is an important life skill. How do we do this? Set
clear limits for your child’s behaviour. You might give
him a choice within those limits but the outer limits are defined
by you as parents. So you might say to your child “its time
to bath, would you like to get in on your own or would you like
me to put you in?” Either option is good for you, and the
process allows your child to choose. Choices give children a feeling
of control in a world where they have little of it. This is valuable
and usually effective.
More information about the skills mentioned in this article can
be obtained on the CDs called “Do Behaivours” and