How To Raise a Child with Values In the 21st Century

Children who have compassion and care? How to raise a child with values in the 21st century is a big concern. What can we do to raise kids with  values in today’s challenging world? Teach them those values and be a good role model!



1. Explicitly teach values. 

Teach values not by lecturing but by asking questions. Listen, and help kids reflect so they can sort out what they think. Some questions to get you started:

  • What do you think would make me most proud of you — a perfect report card, or for you to be a caring member of your school community?
  • Would you stop to help someone on the street who was bleeding? What about someone who dropped their groceries?
  • What do you think is most important for happiness–high achievement, being rich, caring for others, following your passion, or something else?
  • How would you define “entitlement”? (Some people define it as thinking you deserve something, even at the expense of others.)
  • Do you think it’s okay to cheat at school? What if everyone else is?
  • What does it mean to be a caring person?
  • Is it okay to cheat or lie to make money?
  • Would you marry someone you didn’t love, because they had a lot of money?
  • What makes someone a good friend? Why?
  • What do you think makes a person popular?  Are wealthier kids more popular?  Are you popular?  Why or why not? Would you like to be?
  • Do adults automatically deserve respect? What about kids? How do you earn respect?
  • When you work at a job, does it matter if you do a good job?  What if you don’t really like the job?
  • What do you think about volunteering? Is it important to do? Why or why not? What if you would rather play instead?
  • Does getting really good at something make it more fun to do?
  • Would you rather spend ten hours working to earn money for a new toy, or spend the same ten hours getting really good at basketball (or whatever)?
  • Do you think if someone works hard enough, they can get rich? Is that a good goal?
  • How will you know if you are successful in life?
  • Do you think education is worth spending money on? Why or why not?
  • You know how we say in our family that everyone cleans up their own messes?  Do you think that’s true beyond our family?  Do you think it should be true?
  • What could our family do that would make the world a better place?
  • Do you think you make the world a better place, just by being in it?
2. Role model habits of happiness. 

There’s nothing wrong with children, or adults, wanting to be happy. But research shows that chasing after the next good time isn’t what makes us happy. The deepest happiness comes from connecting with others and from developing our passions to make a contribution. Why not explicitly teach kids how to be happy, so it’s a habit rather than an aspiration?

3. Role model that stuff is secondary. 

What matters most to you?  The people you love?  Doing good in the world?  Following your passions and contributing them to the world?  I’m betting you didn’t say “Stuff.”  Kids need to hear explicitly, and to see you demonstrate, what matters most, so they learn that life holds huge abundance beyond achievement and accumulating material possessions.

4. Give your child the opportunity to discover how good it feels to help others. 

You can do this daily in your family, but it makes a bigger impression on children when you also volunteer as a family. What can kids do?  Sort food at a food bank. Help you deliver Meals on Wheels. Organize a book drive and ship the books off to Reader to Reader. You’ll find lots of suggestions online.

5. Every child deserves the pleasure of giving his own money to a worthy cause.

This is a great way to educate kids about others in need, which gives some perspective to our own lives of relative plenty. Try giving a little extra weekly allowance that goes in a special “charity” jar, and letting her get that good feeling about herself by giving it away when she hears about a worthy cause.

6. Cultivate gratitude as a family.

There are many ways to help children learn gratitude, which is the opposite of taking what we have for granted.  The most obvious is including gratitude practices in your family life by making a practice of sharing things you’re grateful for on a daily basis.

7. Meet your child’s emotional needs for connection, understanding and empathy. 

As L.R. Knost says, “It’s when children have their material needs in lieu of their emotional needs met (i.e. when they’re given things and screen time instead of meaningful interaction) or have few needs met sufficiently in either area; that the symptomatic behaviors of entitlement begin to surface. Children who are in stable, supportive, loving relationships with emotionally available and compassionate parents (or other close attachment figures) tend to grow into well-adjusted, generous, respectful adults whether they live with scarcity or abundance materially.” 

In other words, children who experience empathy and connection grow up to empathize and connect. Which is really the bottom line on how to raise caring kids.

culled from AhaParenting 
photo source: startofhappiness
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