Parents, we are the first responsible for the education of our children as individuals. And this involves the transmission of values that structure their behavior and lead them to act as responsible, supportive and environmentally friendly people. People who have positive values favor coexistence.
What Is Values Education?
Values are the criteria that guide our way of interpreting life and acting accordingly. There are personal values that correspond to our philosophy of life and our family heritage and universal values that we should all share. These are the ones that seek to create a better world, a more just world where we are all happier. Promoting tolerance, freedom, solidarity, equality… brings us closer to this goal. And the best place to learn is at home.
How to Teach Values
Children are not born with an innate knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. The way we act toward our children, the way we talk to them, the advice we give them… is the real core of values education. Many of the values we display as adults are nothing more than a series of habits acquired in childhood through the example of our parents.
Children learn by our example. They learn the good things about us, but also the less desirable aspects. When considering values education, it is important that you and your partner do a series of reflections such as: Would you want your child to be like you? What are the values of each that matter most to you and that you share? What values do you want to pass on? Do you act on what you teach? These reflections will help you to define your objectives and to act in a coherent way according to them.
We sometimes forget that it is not enough to scold children when they do something wrong, that the most important thing is to praise them and show them how proud we are of them when they do the right thing. Reinforcing the appearance of attitudes that involve positive values is essential to ensure their complete acquisition.
The principles that are transmitted both within the family and in the social sphere are not always positive. On many occasions, they could be called “counter-values”, because they go against the spirit of universal values. We think of consumerism, the cult of beauty, the search for fame, power… values that, judging by television audiences and the media, are booming. We also think of principles more typical of the family environment, such as the use of force to resolve conflicts, selfishness or the rejection of responsibilities that go against peaceful coexistence. In order to avoid the transmission of this type of negative values, the first step is to select the principles that can be positive to improve the life of our children and to act in accordance with them; in this way the children will incorporate them into their own personality.
Keys to Values Education
Through our attitude and behavior, we educate our children in values and pass on to them what, according to our own education and value system, is important to us. Values education is not done through long and heavy conversations but through our attitude towards the little things in life and the environment we are able to create at home. Here are the things we need to pay attention to.
1. Act in accordance with our values. It is useless to explain to the child that it is necessary to respect nature if we throw papers in the street or if we waste water in front of him/her. Remember that the most effective way to educate about values is by example.
2. Tell stories or read books that promote our values. Reading opens your mind to new ideas and helps you understand circumstances other than your own.
3. Apply limits and rules with democratic criteria. Democratic coexistence in the home implies respect for values such as freedom, equality, justice, tolerance, solidarity and respect.
4. To base the education of the child on reinforcement and motivation and not on punishment and recrimination.
5. Encourage respectful and tolerant dialogue at home. Prefer negotiation to imposition, avoid shouting, refuse to hit the child and administer fair punishments according to the offence committed.
6. Establish both freedoms and obligations that evolve with the child’s age and sense of responsibility.
7. Do not express opinions based on stereotypes, sexist, racist or exclusionary prejudices for the purpose of membership.
8. Share obligations in the home regardless of gender.
9. Teach the child to respect nature according to the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.
There you are! Now that you know more about values education, what are your thoughts on that matter? Let us know in the comments below.