THE cost of a new monitor was $140, and Chas didn’t have that much money. His parents’ solution was to come up with $140 worth of extra chores for Chas to do around the house to pay them back for the monitor.
“We know Chas broke the monitor accidentally, but he still needs to learn that in life, you can make some costly mistakes when you’re being careless,” Melodie says. She didn’t want to just “fix the problem” for Chas, as he wouldn’t have learned from his mistake. She figures that the next time Chas is with his friends, he’ll exert more self-discipline and not get into trouble. But most kids won’t learn to do that if they never have to “own up” to their mistakes.
- Don’t let your children take the easy way out of challenges
Along the same line, you should require your children to finish projects they start, even if their endeavors get tough, tiring or mundane.
Suppose your son begs to sign up for football and then wants to quit after two weeks of practices. Perhaps your daughter signed up for French class but a week later she wants to drop it when she discovers how much the teacher expects students to work and achieve. For the most part, you should not let your children get out of these kinds of commitments (there are exceptions, of course).
If your kids committed to doing something, they need to follow through on that. You don’t want them to become quitters. Encourage them to finish the projects they start. In the process, they’ll develop perseverance and responsibility.
- Involve your children in encouraging and helping others
Encourage your children to help others whenever they can. It’s amazing how helpful they can be to others just through simple acts of kindness, such as making get-well cards for people who are sick, befriending shy or new kids at school, opening the grocery store door for a mom pushing a stroller or making some small talk with the elderly lady sitting by herself at the park.
Try to motivate your children to do these kinds of things. Be on the lookout for people who might need help and lead your kids to reach out to them.
You might also want to get your children involved in a more formal type of service project. That might include visiting nursing homes, helping the local food bank with collecting donations of canned goods or getting involved in a community service organization.
This is not only a great way to serve others, but your children have the opportunity to develop and practice virtues such as generosity, kindness, compassion and respect. “They’re getting to experience first-hand what it’s like to help others,” Dr. Hill says, “and that’s very satisfying.”
- Monitor television viewing and Internet use
When it comes to teaching your children values, there will be a lot less “unlearning” that needs to be done if you minimize their exposure to wrong ideas in the first place. Granted, you can’t shelter them from everything, but you can and should limit their exposure to television and the Internet.
Consider putting computers only in areas of your home where the whole family congregates together. “You don’t want your kids surfing the Web on a computer in their bedroom where you can’t see what they’re looking at,” Dr. Hill warns. If your children do have computers in their bedrooms, install parental controls so that they’re not going to sites you don’t want them to see.
•Continued Next Week