Teaching Values in a Fun Way

Ingenious methods for instilling principles in children without lecturing or badgering them.

What about teaching your children about empathy, cooperation, and kindness? In a jiffy, older kids have their attention spans whittled down to mere milliseconds. What you’re saying is a mystery to children under the age of seven. Fortunately, instilling principles in children doesn’t have to be a dreary endeavor. To avoid preaching or nagging, try these seven methods.

Begin cultivating your own garden. Growing a single flower can show how persistence pays off, but tending to a small garden is more enjoyable in the long run. The trick is not to put too much pressure on your children. Because they’re easy to grow, marigolds and zinnias are a good choice. Kids love the height of sunflowers, so they’re a terrific choice. Have your kids make a bouquet for a neighbor while everything is in bloom; this will teach them to be thoughtful as well. Peas and radish plants, which develop quickly, are an excellent example of the sense of satisfaction that comes from cultivating one’s own food. Children are more likely to consume their vegetables if they grow and care for them themselves.

Reach out to a senior citizen for a conversation. If you make a difference in the life of an older citizen in your neighborhood, your children will develop a deeper respect for the elderly. Have your children deliver a basket of homemade muffins or bread to an elderly neighbor. If you’re going to the grocery store, see if you can pick up anything for an elderly person who has difficulty getting around. Another option is to set up a concert at a nursing home for your child or children, if they are taking music lessons. Not only will this amuse the residents, but it may also motivate your youngster to work more in practice.

Toys may be cleaned. Then, prepare a sink full of warm water and some dish soap for your child’s washable toys. Rinse and dry the toys by demonstrating how to wash them in the soap-water container and rinse them in the other. Considering how much fun it is for kids to play in the water, this task appears more like play than work. Join your hands and sing “This Is the Way We Wash Our Toys” as you wash together. Take the time to compliment your youngster on how well he or she is caring for their possessions.

Make thank-you cards from scratch. An arts and crafts project for youngsters teaches them how to express appreciation in a creative way. Using construction paper, crayons, stickers, and whatever else you can find in your art supplies, make cards with your child together. When someone offers your child a present or soothes him at a difficult time, encourage him to send out thank-you notes. You have the option of hand-delivering one or mailing one in an envelope. Send him a thank-you card if he’s been very helpful to you to show him how much he means to you.

Scrapbook your memories. Empathy for the feelings of others is a prerequisite for children who want to grow up with solid morals. Collect copies of your (or his) favorite publications and take a look through them together to help your youngster learn to read nonverbal cues. Instead of concentrating on the text, take a closer look at the persons depicted in the images. In order to figure out how they’re feeling, pay attention to their facial expressions and body language. The faces can be cut out and pasted in a scrapbook after the pages have been removed. Later, revisit the images and discuss the feelings you’ve identified. Ask yourself if it’s OK to feel that way and point to a face (the answer, of course, is yes, no matter what emotion is depicted).

Make a complete and thorough cleanup of the area. Want to tidy your home while also instilling the virtue of altruism in your children? Have them choose a local charity and sell their unwanted possessions to raise funds for it. Set a date for a yard sale to sell children’s outgrown toys, books, clothes, and sports equipment. Creating a poster to publicize the event with the help of the children is a smart move. It’s a great day to let the little ones earn some extra cash by selling lemonade or even taking money from the customers. Upon completion of the sale, they’ll be pleased with their earnings. Decide on a time when everyone can get together to donate the money to the charity of their choice.

Be a good friend. The “buddy game” is an excellent approach to teach children to be selfless since it takes their attention away from themselves. It’s also simple to get started: At breakfast, put everyone’s name in a hat and have each individual draw from it one at a time. After lunch, urge each participant to hunt for a kind thing to do on the sly for a friend—it may be anything from leaving small gifts to playing the friend’s favorite game. Little ones can get some inspiration from Mom or Dad for thoughtful acts. It’s fun because of the sense of secrecy.