“Your values are your current estimations of truth. They represent your answer to the question of how to live.” -Steve Pavlina
Whether we are paying attention or not, our child’s value system is being shaped every day from a variety of sources: parents, friends, teachers, celebrities, advertisers, and experiences… (just to name a few).
The importance of this truth cannot be overstated because the values that our children learn today will, in many ways, determine the type of life they live as adults. Values will help shape their sense of right from wrong, their behaviors, their motivations, and how they choose to spend their money and time. Our child’s tomorrow will be heavily influenced by the values they learn today.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to intentionally instill into our children values that will help bend their lives toward a positive future. With that thought in mind, whether you are a parent or not, here is a list of 15 things that children can (and should) value more than material possessions.
- Honesty -Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
- Family members – We work hard to teach our children about the importance of family. We look out for one another, care for one another, and cheer for one another. Home is a safe place – a stable environment that provides the foundation for our child to succeed in life. A child who is proud of his family can always come home… no matter where life has taken him.
- Learning – Children need to value education. But more than that, they need to value the process of learning so that they can become lifelong learners well beyond their years in formal education. Teach them to love reading, exploring, curiosity and how to ask good questions.
- Their Soul – We have tried to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing… their decisions should be based on the internal compass inside their heart and soul.
- The Opposite Sex – Boys need to learn to value and respects girls. Girls need to learn to value and respect boys. Each offers unique insight and brings beauty into our world. Viewing the opposite sex in any other light leads to unhealthy relationships and ultimately, disaster.
- Nature - Children who learn to appreciate the world around them learn to take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
- Friendship – Good friends can be tough to come by, yet they can make all the difference in the kind of life that we live. And seeing as how honest, dependable, and generous people attract honest, dependable, and generous friends, kids should learn to honor their friends at an early age and care for their friendships with the utmost respect.
- Determination - Life is full of challenges. Helping children learn that not all problems will be solved quickly and easily is important. It will set them up to accomplish great things and keep dreaming and striving when others around them have already given up.
- Quietness - In a world full of noise, enjoying and valuing quietness is rare. But solitude and meditation provides us the opportunity to self-evaluate our life, our decisions, and our direction. Intentional people intentionally find room for quietness.
- Hard Work – Most people see hard work as just a means to an end. They work hard so they can earn a nice paycheck and a nice living. But hard work should be a reward in itself because not all hard work of lasting value is compensated handsomely.
- Justice - Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it… not hoarding power over another just to stay on top.
- Art – Art represents the ability to create, communicate, and compel – three important actions for the rest of life. The importance of art in a society, culture, or individual can never be overstated and should always be valued and appreciated.
- Animals – Recognizing the intrinsic value of animals helps children treat them with care and respect. And while this is an end in itself, treating animals with care and respect is an important step to treating other people with care and respect as well.
- Affection – Love should not just be felt, it also needs to be expressed to be fully enjoyed and realized.
- Themselves - People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
Values are best caught not taught. Children will learn far more by observing the lifestyle of those they admire than by listening to empty words. So explain healthy values. Reward healthy values. But more importantly, model healthy values.
After all, if these 15 things are important enough for children to value… then they are 15 things we should value more than material possessions too.