It’s easy to post a list of core values on the refrigerator. It’s much more difficult for parents to be consistent. Consistency lets children know what to expect and what is expected of them. Of course, children will push boundaries but inconsistency from parents confuses children.
Everyone involved in your child’s development are critical to modeling and upholding core values. Parents need to work with these important role models to foster the importance of doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, and for the right reasons.
Parents need to commit to model and reinforce to their children the core values and character strengths that mean the most to them. They also need to be creative and offer meaningful experiences that illuminate how important these character strengths are to the family’s core values.
We know “We need to talk” freaks kids out, but too often parents avoid having conversations about character, especially as children get older. While it may not be easy to talk sometimes, we know from the research that parents who avoid talking to their children about serious matters quickly lose trust and connection.
Parents need to find ways for their children to be active participants in their own character growth. Optimal character development occurs when children begin to make self-motivated commitments to consistently practice a core value (e.g. “I want to be the kind of person who is always honest and shows up on time.”) Parents need to celebrate these moments to shape and define individual character.