As you go about teaching your values to your children
keep Rule 4 in mind: "It doesn't matter what you say, it is what they say for
themselves that counts!"
To teach your values to your children you must use methods and techniques
that get your children to "say it for themselves." You can tell your children
that they should be honest until you are blue in the face, but it will not bring about
lasting change in their behavior until they choose to adopt honesty into their personal
ideas about themselves. Keep in mind that you are trying to input the ideas into their
heads that will rule their worlds.
STEP ONE - POSSIBILITY THINKING
- Buy, or better yet, make for your child a notebook to be a record of their investigation
into the world of possibilities for their lives. The earlier in their life that you do
this the better. Five years old is not too young. You might have to write it for them at
this point, but as soon as they can write let them take over.
- Have them start a list of everything they can DO, BE, or HAVE. Start this list when you
both can spend enough time to fill at least two full pages with possibilities. Then keep
the list handy and add to it at every possible opportunity. Allow them to list both
positive and negative possibilities, because this teaches them that part of the process of
making good decisions lies in eliminating bad choices as well as picking good choices.
- Continue this process until your child has filled at least six pages with possibilities
then move to STEP TWO.
STEP TWO - SELECT THE TOP TWENTY
- From their six page list of possibilities created in step one, have your children pick
the twenty that they would most like to DO, BE, or HAVE in their life. The child should
keep this list private; otherwise this process will become an exercise in pleasing others
rather than an exercise in self guided behavior. (Some families will use the Bible or
other religious book as a guide in selecting items for this list. Others will guide their
children to seek the advice of others, like Grandparents or youth leaders in making these
selections of their top twenty.) Children must be allowed to ask for advice and then
allowed to not use it if they disagree.
- Once the child has picked a list of twenty, then have them prioritize the list from one
to twenty, starting with the one that they would most like to accomplish on down to the
- Tell them that this list is just a starting place and it can be altered at any time. (It
is their list and nobody else will ever see it so it can be changed at any time with no
consequences.) The list constitutes a roadmap for their life and they can pick a different
road at any time. One should always check their roadmap to insure that the road they are
on will get them to the destination that they want.
(Many parents question the idea of allowing this list to be a secret. Here is something
to ponder if the idea of a private list causes you anxiety. If, in fact, you do convince
your children that having a "Top Twenty List" is a good idea that will bring
about real results and you force them to show it to you, then they will have a list that
they show you and another real list for themselves! Why not empower them to do that in the
first place. Where your input comes is in the selection of the items on the list.)
Remember, it will be easier to convince them to do this if you also do it!
STEP THREE - READ IT THREE TIMES A DAY
- Guide your children to take time out of their day to read and think about their Top
Twenty List. One of the most powerful ways to guide their behavior is to model it for them
by doing it too. (Some families will include this list into daily prayers if religion is a
big part of their life. It makes much more sense to kids to pray if they have something
specific to pray for, and put into a context of prayer the list will often take on a much
less self serving, and material feel.)
- Explain to your children that there are a couple of critical times each day to read this
list: 1. first thing in the morning, and 2. last thing at night. If it is read first thing
in the morning it programs the mind to focus on the important events and opportunities
during the day. If it is read last thing at night it allows the mind to focus again before
rest thus affirming progress and success during the day.
ARE vs. OUGHT TO BE
"Don't treat them
as if they ought to be
what you want them to
The ultimate insult to a child is to tell them that they "ought to
be," because in doing so there is a hidden message that "you are not."
them as if they ARE!"
If we want to teach responsibility we must give responsibility not take it
If we want kids to feel important we must treat them as if they are.
If we as a society want our kids to grow up with a sense of belonging we
must offer a place to belong.
If we want kids to be intelligent we must provide opportunities for them
WE MUST PROVIDE QUALITY
TO THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN!
This is not a part-time job... there is no such thing as quality
time. There is TIME period! To do a good job with the
raising of our children we must give them time, our time.. and lots of it!
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