We have all heard our children say, "Why?" When given a directive. The normal response? "Because I said so!" This exchange usually leads to frustration for both parents and children. What if there was another way? What if you could link behaviors and choices back to the values of your family? Value-Based Parenting can help.
Learning to choose behavior according to a clear value system can help guide both adults and children. I speak to people of all ages, every day, who don't know why they made the choice they did. I speak with parents who get frustrated about why their children keep making the same poor choices in behavior in their home and they don't know how to change things. Value-Based Parenting and regular discussion of Family Values can encourage appropriate behavior now and good decision making as an adult.
- The first step… Take a step back. Do you know what values your family shares? Do you and your partner have a mutual agreement that in your home you prize values such as Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Spirituality or Service? If you know what values you hold and want to teach to your children, you can speak from the values and not just punish individual behaviors.
- The second step… Define your family’s values. Parents should decide together what core values are important to them and write them down. These are influenced by a variety of areas; religious education, society/media, your own childhood. List the values that are most important to you to pass on to your children. Some examples of these include: Autonomy, Family, Health/Balance/Wellness and Education.
- The third step… List behaviors that represent those core values. Much like organizations that publish core values on a website, write down the values of your family and brainstorm with your kids what it would look like to live out that value. For example: "The value of education would mean that school work comes before fun time." "The value of family means that we have one night a week of family dinner and game night instead of going out with friends."
- Now walk the walk and talk the talk. If you had to make a hard choice but know it was for the right reason, talk about it. "I wanted to call off sick to work today. However, I know I feel fine and we value Honesty in this home, so I chose to go to work."
- Use the values to frame conversation about the children's choices. "I know you want the new smartphone, but we value Responsibility in this family and you misplaced your last one. So if over the next few months you can show us that you can be responsible for the belongings you already have, then we can discuss it."
This type of conversation avoids a negative label such as: "You’re irresponsible" and instead focuses on the behavior you expect from them in the future, "Responsibility." Not only does it apply to them, but it also applies to you! This family is in it together!
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