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How to Instill the Right Values

So, how are you going to instill these values in your children? Setting an example is vitally important, of course, but you can also make sure that you spell out what you believe in and why. Instead of saying, "I know you wanted me to read you another chapter but I don't have time," why not say (assuming it's true), "I know you wanted me to read to you but I promised your Grandma I'd phone her, and I can't break a promise."

Suppose one of your children says, "I don't want to go to Ollie's party. I hate football. Can't I say I'm doing something else?" Instead of agreeing, ask your child how he would feel if Ollie lied to him. Then help him find an alternative that doesn't involve lying to Ollie. It's much better to say to Ollie, "I wouldn't enjoy it because I hate football, but would you like to come and play at my house next weekend instead?"

Siblings provide an endless supply of opportunities to point out how it feels when someone lets you down, lies to you, "borrows" your things without asking, annexes your friends, and all the other petty sins that brothers and sisters commit. So if you have more than one child, make sure they all recognize the lesson for themselves—and reassure yourself with the thought that they're treating their friends far better than they treat each other.

Another way you can reinforce your values is by the way you praise your children. If you praise them for exhibiting the values you want to see, they are far more likely to repeat and reinforce them. So tell them, "I thought that was a really courageous thing to do, well done," or "I was really happy to see you including Alice in your games, even though she slows you down because she's younger."

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From Nobody Told Me That! 10 Tools for Parenting Healthy, Happy Children Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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