Teaching your kids family values shouldn't be guesswork. This post will help you come up with a simple plan so you can teach your kids the values that matter to your family in a way that's fun and memorable.
Be intentional, teaching kids values matters
Many of us enter parenthood assuming our kids will learn everything they need to know by osmosis (just us?). If we value something, we assume our kids will too, whether or not we communicate it clearly. After all, actions speak louder than words right? Well, yes and no.
Actions that are in line with clearly stated values, speak louder than all. If you've been a parent for any amount of time, you realize that modeling is only part of the job. There are many things kids have to be modeled AND explicitly taught in order to be caught. Values are one of those things.
The infamous cone of learning says that we remember:
- 10 percent of what we read
- 20 percent of what we hear
- 30 percent of what we see
- 50 percent of what we see and hear
- 75 percent of what we see, hear, and talk about
- 90 percent of what we see, hear, talk about and do
In other words, if we want our kids to remember our family values, we need to model them, clearly state them, and talk about them with our kids THEN we need to give them a chance to practice and apply those values right away.
We'll walk you through each of these steps below.
Identify Your Family Values
First things first, we have to be clear on what our family values are before we can teach them to our kids. We recommend starting with creating a family mission statement, and then moving on to writing your values.
If you haven't done this yet, follow the links above to go to our how-to posts for writing a mission statement and set of values. You can also use of FREE Family mission statement worksheet to make it easier!
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Prepare to teach
Now that you have your mission statement and values written out, look at your calendar and pick a week to start teaching! The sooner the better.
The only thing we'd recommend you have done beforehand is make sure you've written out your values or printed them on a sign and placed the sign somewhere everyone can see it.
Next, plan to teach one value per week. You could also do one a month, whatever works for your family. We just prefer to communicate our values a little quicker!
Write your value for each week in your planner, calendar, or in a note or reminder on your phone--somewhere you'll be reminded of it!
Help your kids read and hear the value
Pick a time at the beginning of the week to read the first value to your children (or have them read it if they're old enough) and work on memorizing it. Hint, if you read our post, "How to Write Your Family Values" you will have written a descriptor sentence for each value that explains how your family lives out that value.
Help your kids memorize this statement with the value. Practice together each morning or in the evening before bed. Make it a game. Everyone who is able to recite the value without looking by the end of the week gets a prize (including mom and dad).
Talk about the value
When you introduce each value at the beginning of the week, spend time talking about what it means and why it's important to your family. If you have older kids, you can involve them in discussions. Ask them what the value means to them. Help them come up with examples for how they might live out that value in their day-to-day activities.
With younger children, explain any difficult words and give examples that apply to their lives. If you have scripture that goes along with your value, focus on memorizing the scripture with the value.
Another fun way to talk about the value and help it sink in is to read a book or watch a movie supports it.
Practice the value
Tell your children that you're going to make an effort to practice the value during the week. You can make this fun by creating a value board with everyones name. Every time a family member displays the value, they get a mark on the board. At the end of the week the winner get's to choose where to go out to dinner, or what movie to watch, etc.
Just make sure to keep it super positive and reward every person, every opportunity to get. You're not looking for perfection, you're looking for tiny seeds to water!
Kids rise to the level of encouragement we give them, but fall under disparaging words. We aren't saying correction won't be necessary, but when it is focus on calling them UP to the value, instead of tearing them down for their mistake.
Need a real life example?
Let's say your family is working on being faithful to their word. Your son says he will clean his room before playing video games, but when you go to tell him dinner is ready, you notice the room is still a mess, and He's deep in his Minecraft creations. He clearly wasn't faithful to his word.
Instead of berating him for being "unfaithful" and using the value as a hammer, you can have a discussion with him. Help him understand that He is called to a higher standard, because you believe the best of Him and because, "in our family, we are faithful to keep our word."
Since you've already discussed the value, he'll better understand your correction and any consequences that come with it. He may not be happy about it, but he'll learn the deeper lesson behind your instruction.
Continue the work
Each week focus on another family value. Once you've made it through all your values, you'll have laid a strong foundation to continue working from for years to come.
A parents work is never done, we know this. But, when kids understand family values, loving instruction and correction become a lot easier. And as a result, relationships grow stronger. After all, it's their hearts we're after, not perfect behavior.
How to Teach Kids Values
- Identify and write down your family values
- Focus on teaching one value per week
- Help kids memorize the value
- Talk about what the value means, read stories, give examples
- Practice value throughout the week, and model it
- Keep values in discussions, correction, and family decisions
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