Raising children with solid core values

By Beverley Nah

Raising a child has never been an easy task, especially in today’s world where technological advancement has made many things transparent and accessible.  There are so many variables that parents have to consider – the values that you want to impart to your child, the kind of person that you want your child to grow up to be, which school should he/she go to, the expenses incurred, the environmental and social influence that can impact your child and many, many more.  With so many questions to ponder, parenting is in fact one of the toughest job out there and it takes a load full of courage and guts to push through.

As an educator, I strongly believe in the importance of raising a solid child – a child that is well grounded with strong values and that these values should always start from the moment the child comes out to the world.  Once a child has a strong solid ground, he or she is able to withstand the many stressors that they may face in life. Hence to do so is to impart and cultivate core values to your child.

What are core values?

Core values are beliefs and principles that you hold strongly; values that has made the person that you are and guided you in your pathway in life.  Core values are extremely important in a child’s development as it molds how your child behaves, the beliefs that they are taught and how they walk along in their journey in life.  Core values should be cultivated from the moment he/she comes out to this world.  

Here are some examples of core values that you can explore

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Independence
  • Humility
  • Compassion and Empathy
  • Respect
  • Courage 
  • Love 
  • Gratitude
  • Perseverance and determination
  • Hope and Optimism
  • Justice
  • Patience
  • Kindness

How do you impart core values to your child?

To impart core values to your child, you should first identify at least 3-5 types of values that you deemed is necessary to teach your child.  These are values that you strongly believe in or values that you think is extremely important for your child to cultivate especially in today’s world.  Start off with 3-5 values first and then build it along the way as your child grows. This way your child fully comprehends and understands the importance of each values that have been taught to them.  To cultivate values to your child, you must first truly understand what these values are and the methods that you want to use to impart these values to them.

Here are some simple ways that you can cultivate good values to your child

  • Practise what you preach. 

A child is like a piece of white paper, they do not know what is right or wrong, what they can or cannot do.  They follow your examples, what you do and how do you it. They comprehend the values based on what they see in their everyday life.  As a child, my mum taught me the importance of respect, especially to the elderly. She showed me the importance of greeting every elder person that I see, serving food to the elder person first and that seats on the bus must always be given to an elder person.  This is something that I preach till today because it was shown to me at an early age.

  • Explain well

Gone were the days where our parents used to tell us “because I said so”.  Children these days like full explanation and they comprehend these explanations extremely well.  If you want your child to be a responsible person, explain to him/her on the things that makes them responsible and how they can go about to do so.  It takes a lot of patience to teach children values.

  • Motivate your child

When you notice your child practicing the values that you have taught them, praise them or acknowledged them for it.

“I really liked how you have helped your little sister in wearing her clothes.  That’s being a responsible older brother/sister”
“Thank you for telling me the truth.  I really liked your honesty”

“I am so sorry that I have kept you waiting so patiently for me”

By telling children these, they understand what these values are about and it helps to reinforce their actions, “so, this is what being responsible is about”.  It helps them to fully grasp the concept of these values.  

  • Nagging doesn’t help

Many times, when a child did something that they weren’t supposed to do, for example break a vase, or stole a piece of cake, they dare not admit or tell the truth.  They simply keep quiet, denied, shy away or start crying. Children are afraid to admit or tell the truth because they fear being scolded or punished. Encourage children to be honest on their actions and explain to them about the cause and effect and the consequences that may occur for their actions.  If you do need to punish them for their actions, explain to them why. Getting angry and lashing out at them will only make the situations tense. 

  • Instill empathy and compassion

These are 2 very important values that should be taught to kids.  By instilling compassion, children understand the concept of empathy and don’t we all need more empathy and compassion in this world?  

Volunteer in your local old folk’s home, orphanage or any community project like some gotong royong or clean the beach project. Bring your child with you and encourage them to participate in these activities.  Help them to understand how privilege their life are as comparative to others and that we should always lend a helping hand to the needy people.  

  • Open discussion

Be open with all the questions that your child may have about values.  There are bound to be questions like “why is it ok for him/her to do this and I can’t” or “It’s not fair that this happened to me”.  Your child may not understand that different children are taught different values and that these values are also taught differently by individual parents. Encourage children to pour out their thoughts and feelings to you and discuss it openly with them.  This also helps to create a strong emotional bond between you and your child.

Building resiliency in children with core values

Resiliency is a term that is commonly used these days and it speaks of the ability for children to deal with the different types of stress that they face in their everyday life.  Core values are extremely important for children to face with adversity. Children that have solid and strong core values are able to handle the different stressors that they may face.  They learn how to deal with these stressors calmly and confidently as they understand that these stressors are just part and parcel of life that they have to deal with. I once overheard a mummy telling her daughter of about 6 or 7-year-old, who was sobbing after she had an argument with her friends, “whether the storm, it will soon pass”.  Upon hearing this, the daughter nodded, wiped off her tears, and ran back to her friends. She said something to the girls which I could not hear but I could make out the “I’m sorry” words that the girls said to her and they went back playing happily. I turned back, smiled and gave the mum a thumb up as a sign of saying “well done, mummy”.  

Just like us adults, children have their moments too – they break down, sulk a little, need their “me time” – give them some time to think through these moments and they will come back up in no time.  As parents, we just need to be there for them when they needed us.

As children grow up, they face many different social and environmental factors that could influence their day-to-day life.  Often these factors could confuse them as they do not know how to differentiate between what’s right and what’s not. Cultivating core values to children at a very young age provides them the basic foundation that is needed to withstand the harsh adversity that they may face in their journey in life.   When you have a strong mind, you can weather all the storms that comes. 

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