Every family is different and there are no universal norms for how to raise a child. That said, in order for our children to fluidly move between school, the houses of friends, participate in sleep overs, attend parties, and go on outings with other families, it is useful that some basic values and behaviors are learned to ensure the safety of everyone. These include:
- Honesty keeps children accountable for their actions. Children must be honest about where they are going, where they have been, who they have been with and what they are doing. Being honest helps children avoid dangerous or costly mistakes that could have been avoided by speaking truthfully with parents and adults.
- Respect covers both verbal and physical domains. Children should have respect for adults, other children, property, and the rules of the communities in which they live (school, town, housing complex, etc.). Respectful behaviors keep children safe from preventable confrontations with other children (e.g. fights), the police, or teachers.
- Self-control. Self-control is necessary to notice and follow instructions and rules. Children with self-control are able to conform to rules to maintain order, safety, and respect. Lack of self-control can increase impulsive decision making and put children in danger because rules, laws, or respectful interactions are broken.
These three basic concepts help our children conform to norms that make them pleasant and welcome in most settings. Additionally, when our children practice these values they feel confident about their ability to navigate most social situations. The benefits of teaching your children these values will help them:
- explore their world with less friction,
- create new relationships,
- maintain friendships,
- get the most out of interactions with their teachers for improved learning, and
- feel welcome around other adults.
Altogether, this increases feelings of connectedness and belonging because the relationships they create are rooted in values that support openness and understanding.
Failure to teach children these values can make them feel out of place and embarrassed because everyone is noticing their behavior in a negative way. This may lead them to act even more aggressively as a means to hide their discomfort and manage the intenseness of their emotions. Not knowing how to behave in social situations can create feelings of isolation. When children feel alone it reduces their ability to reach out to a parent, friend, or other adult for help or assistance. Also, adults tend to move away from or ignore children with negative behaviors, which can isolate the child even more. Sadly, a cycle can emerge where the child feels abandoned since no one wants to be around them, so they act out because they don’t have anyone to help them regulate what they are feeling. With time, this can develop into a pattern of behavior that is hard to break.
Teaching these values of honesty, respect, and self-control to our children will help them successfully manage their way in social environments and avoid feeling embarrassed. Furthermore, these values are useful to create strong relationships that will help develop other positive behaviors through social interactions.
About the instructor
Dr. Deanna Marie Mason PhD
More than 20 years of clinical experience helping families:
Bachelor's Degree in Registered Nursing, Master’s Degree in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and PhD in Nursing. University professor, patient education specialist, pediatric researcher, published author and reviewer to first-line international scientific journals, continuous philanthropic activity related to health promotion and education, wife and mother of two children.