Value Education

Values help in travelling the journey of life. We don’t develop them automatically but through experience and observation. Child is not different. Let’s coach the child to set his compass.

If Value Education is important to you – here are some guidelines:

Some Don’ts first:

1. Avoid lectures, especially during or immediately after the act. If you daughter says a lie (e.g. “I have brushed my teeth”), ‘now’ is not the time to lecture her on importance of honesty. Just accept her lie by saying something like “fine”.

2. Avoid Why questions. Why questions are interrogative and nobody likes being interrogated. In any case the child typically gives some explanation or excuse. Unfortunately this may even give the child the illusion of justification of his act. Why questions rarely lead to positive actions. Trying answering these: “Why did you lie?” “Why did you not share?” Got the idea? Check out the alternates below.

3. Avoid discussing about the child’s act in front of others. Even both parents discussing about it in front of the child (“You know what your son did today?”) causes extreme embarrassment and stress. It typically closes the child for further listening. Discuss the issue in private, decide on a strategy and both parents follow the same. If both disagree on the course of action then let one take over and other just acts ignorant.

4. Avoid labeling (‘dishonest’, ‘uncaring’, ‘unreliable’, ‘immature’ or ‘unfair’ etc.). Lousy labeling closes the child for any further improvement and does exactly the opposite to what we intend. Let’s remember to point out the behavior, not to tag the child.

The following would be the rough steps we would take to develop any value:

1. Decide a set of values you want to consciously work on. Let’s say honesty, generosity, gratitude, trust, respect etc. We can’t work on ALL of them (how much ever you may want the child to develop all 🙂 We would say – three at a time.

2. Make child aware of the value from child’s past experience (e.g. When you told me correctly that you had spilled it – you were using honesty”). Notice the word “using”, that is one way to show to the child that the value is always there in the child. You are just showing that child used it.

3. Discuss the value at every possible opportunity – maybe when you lied, maybe when a character lied in a story or a movie, maybe when a stranger said the truth, and so on. E.g. “Why do you think it was important for me to tell you the truth at the play? What if I had told you a lie?”

4. Delay discussion: If child’s shows any unacceptable (moral) behavior (eg: telling a lie) – discuss the incident much later when you and the child are emotionally in rapport (say bed time). Instead of “why” questions, explore using “what” questions. Eg: “In what ways telling this lie helped you? In what ways can it cause harm? “What are the alternatives?”

Remember we are not lecturing the child. We are, through careful questioning, letting the child explore, on his own, the value and its importance in his life.