15 Things Children Can (and Should) Value More Than Possessions

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Affection – Love should not just be felt, it also needs to be expressed to be fully enjoyed and realized.
  15. 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.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Learning, nature, quietness and hard work all seem to be in short supply these days.
    Put up against these, material possessions haven’t a chance, it is sad that most children are not taught these values at a young age.
    Inspiring post, thank you.

  2. Wendi says

    Thank you for reminding people that these values aren’t “taught” instead they are “caught”. It is through our example in their lives that children develop their values. It’s so important that we live what we want our children to be.

  3. Sarah says

    Great post – these apply to adults as well as children.
    For those who really want to live value #13, respect for animals, please consider going vegan! You can’t truly believe in and acknowledge the intrinsic value of animals while killing them for meat, skin, and other products. That is using them as a means to an end.

  4. says

    One day I stepped back and realized that as a child I didn’t have a ton of toys ~ I had plenty, but I wasn’t the type of kid that expected a new Barbie just because we went to Wal-Mart. I got new toys and clothes at Christmas and my birthday. And I wanted to make that kind of a switch for my own children. They just don’t seem to appreciate what they have. I wasn’t really sure what to do with this feeling though.
    I’ve really appreciated your site and your advice. Its made me realize that I’ve been longing for “minimalism” in my life. Your site has helped me identify this so I can have clearer goals and be able to explain it to my husband.
    We’re at the beginning of our journey and I know it will be a long one! But I wanted to take a minute to let you know that I look forward to your posts and how inspiring all of the stories are! ~ Thank you!

  5. says

    On friendship, I discovered a quotation tonight when walking by a Unitarian church. It’s a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

    Thanks for the other elements of value.

  6. wildmockingbirdgirl says

    I hope a lot of parents read this post. I’m jumping into college this fall and considering changing my major to teaching. At the very least I want to participate in Teach for America. Keeping these values in mind will definitely help in how I approach teaching.

    Also, I hate to plug myself, but I’m a newbie…my blog is http://www.wildmockingbirdgirl.wordpress.com. I’m just letting you know because you fit somewhere in “niche” and I’ve come to really enjoy reading your posts. :)

  7. says

    Sounds so simple yet so many families struggle because they are trying to keep up with society and the buy all the stuff they think they “need”. I am sharing this post with all my readers of Gail’s Scoop. Thanks!

  8. CD says

    Somewhat random… but I love that picture in this post. It reminds me a lot of my little one. What is its origin?

  9. Bobbie says

    So many preach a good game about values and teaching what is and isn’t important in life. There is so much hypocracy prevalent in today’s world – so sad for our newest generation. If only people would be open to re-evaluating what they are demonstrating and teaching to their own children, our world would be a better and more positive place. It’s not what we own, but what kind of people we are and how we treat each other.

  10. Pandurang says

    Thanks, I really enjoyed reading this. The simplicity and clarity of what you have put down here proves that the greatest truths are the simplest. Way to go!

  11. says

    Very reflective, substantial and insightful article. I love it. Thank you very much for sharing. This is very important and very applicable for today’s generation because the values of our youth today is slowly fading….

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. What Can a Minimalist do? | September 17, 2011

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