Teaching Values and Respect to a Young Child

"You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken..." Plato's Republic

Values and respect are essential for a young child.
Values and respect are essential for a young child.

The Early Years

After spending 18 years in early childhood classrooms, I have been able to grasp the significance and importance of teaching values and respect to young children at an early age. A child's brain is going through its fastest growth and development from birth through 5 years of age. These are the critical years for human neural development.

During the first three years, the child is learning whether the world is safe, dependable (does mommy come when I cry, will I be fed when I'm hungry), begins language development, learns familiar faces, surroundings. The child will begin adopting learned behaviors in order to have its basic needs supplied and learn how to interact with others.

A child develops values by social and cultural imprints. If left to a stressed environment, the child can develop an over-reactive nervous system which can result negatively with the child's motivation to behave. It can also isolate a child from relating with others and affect the ability to focus. Values are essential for healthy brain development and growth.

Values Give Families a Moral Compass

Values give purpose and clarity to our lives
Values give purpose and clarity to our lives

What Are Values?

Values are beliefs that are important to an individual, a family, a society, civilization. A family or society without a value system has no direction, no moral compass in which to help give guidance. Ask yourself what is important to you. What values are necessary to integrate within your family, your home, your contribution to society? What do you value? Take some time to write down your own values and those which you believe are important for your child. I'm listing a few examples:

  • quiet time for yourself
  • free expression of thought, opinions without judgment
  • quality time with your family, friends
  • educating the mind with books, arts
  • caring for belongings, home, environment
  • conscious, caring discipline of self and children

If you want your child to share your values, make sure they are evident in your own behavior and home. A young child learns by observation first. With participation, a value can be integrated into the child's brain circuitry. Obviously, the opposite holds true. If the child has no value system to observe, the brain will adapt to the environment in which it is exposed. The values may stay with him throughout his lifetime or may change as the brain is exposed to different stimuli and different opinions are formed.

The Children's Book of Virtues

The Children's Book of Virtues
The Children's Book of Virtues

A beautiful collection of stories, fables, poems and artwork illustrating 10 virtues subdivided into 4 groups written by former Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett. This is such a wonderful book that both children and adults will enjoy. I also have the companion Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories which should be in every home.

 

How to Teach Values to Your Child

It's really quite simple, providing that you're not trying to enforce a behavior. If you want your child to be polite to you, be polite to your child. If you want your child to be polite, be polite. If you expect your young child to be polite at school, then speak politely about school and his teachers and also speak politely about your friends. If there is a problem at school, then deal directly with the appropriate person and go through the proper channels. Whatever you wish to instill in your child, you must be willing to have yourself or you will experience problems.

Respect the Child First

Teaching young children respect follows the same principles. Respect is a willingness to show consideration or appreciation for someone or something whether one shares the same opinion. Children need to be taught how to respect their bodies, their minds, their belongings and yours, authority figures both inside and outside the home, friends, elders, pets, animals and opinions that may differ from their own. You could ask your child what is important to respect and help him make a short list (3-5) to keep posted in his room. You show your child respect by respecting him as an individual, a separate human being.

Look in the Mirror

It is often helpful to remember that values and respect are most easily taught and successfully adopted by utilizing the "mirror" method. Here are a few examples to allow your child to see you being respectful:

  • brush your teeth and keep yourself clean and groomed
  • sit down together at the dinner or breakfast table
  • call or visit your parents or elderly friends
  • exercise
  • put your clothes away and assist your child
  • walk and bathe your pet
  • use polite words, "I like the way you...."

Of course, the list could go on and on, but the point is clear. Respect is something that is taught and valued. Early childhood is the best time to teach and help a child form a good value system, respecting himself and others.

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships- the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Civilization

The moral decline of the family unit is evident. This is apparent in the rising hostility of society. It is imperative that we teach our children worthy values that can reflect what is good and kind and ethical in our own lives and in our world. Hopefully these values can be embraced and become a part of their overall behavior and constitution. I believe we need to refocus on what is important within our own family units and teach our children a sense of moral values. They will be our future generation.

Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you out of respect for the teacher, but whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, and welfare of all beings- that doctrine believe, cling to and take it as your guide.

Buddhist aphorism

More by this Author


Thank You for Reading and Please Feel Free to Leave a Comment. 50 comments

John Chancellor profile image

John Chancellor 7 years ago from Tennessee

Very good and timely. I think we have lost our sense of values. We are more willing to let other do for us what we can and should do for ourselves. We seem to be losing the value of individual contribution and would rather get than give.

And it all starts at home. As Virgil said, "As the twig is bent, the tree inclines." We are not teaching values at home. It is very difficult to teach values later in life. It is much easier to develop a good habit than break a bad one.

Great lessons ... I just wish more people would live by your lesson.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

thanks so much. the topic was inspired this morning after spending time in one of the forums....

I appreciate your comment and love the Virgil quote~


Time_Spiral 7 years ago

I really enjoy this article.

The "losing our values" topic is a popular belief and has a lot to do with what I call the "Legend Effect". We look at something from the past, idolize it, turn it into something bigger than it was, and in most cases recreate the events in our memory TOTALLY WRONG from what they actually were. Then get upset when we compare it to the now and it doesn't live up ...

Was there not civil unrest in medieval Europe hundreds of years ago? Were there not family feuds, corruption, people eating dinner in separate rooms? Did fathers not leave their families for months at a time to campaign and win bread? Did woman not work tirelessly all day to support the household?

In some ways we are more connected, more social, and more open to progressive trends than ever before - in the history of the world. So this whole idea that we are "losing our precious value system" seems to me like either one of two things could be happening ...

1. We are simply more conscious of a problem that has always existed, and by virtue of "just noticing it" we think it is new.

2. We are un-wiling to do the work our "legends" were and are hence forth upset when the result differs.

Excellent work though with this article.

Be peaceful on your way,

Time_Spiraling

"I am Another You"


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

Time_spiral~ thank you for your comments and I certainly understand your viewpoint. I think what I'm talking about refers more to a segment of society no longer placing an emphasis on teaching values, a sense of right and wrong to their children. Would love to see some hubs from you!


KyonSOS23 profile image

KyonSOS23 7 years ago from Nabon

Teaching is important and It is ways propagation from ancestor to descendant.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

Kyon, thank you for your comment. yes, it is very important and I love your observation! teaching children well is a rewarding investment for our future!


bill web coach profile image

bill web coach 7 years ago

That's great and beautifully written. On respect might I suggest showing compassion for ouhers is equally important?


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

Thank You bill ~~ yes, compassion is certainly essential and can easily be taught to a young child. Might be food for a new topic. Thank you!


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 7 years ago from The Land of Tractors

I liked this article so much that I Digged and Stumbled it, and of course, gave it a huge thumbs up. People don't respect preschool teachers enough. What a well-expressed and timeless truth you expressed in this hub!


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

thanks so much wannabwestern~ I appreciate your generous comments and so happy to hear you've posted it for others to see~~ and thanks for the thumbs up!!


jem060504 7 years ago

I enjoyed your blog values are so important in Today's world!!

http://hubpages.com/family/Dreaded-first-day-of-sc...


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

We forget that what we live by today was instilled in us at a very early age. Your Hub explains this exceedingly well.

I found this Hub through your post in the Forums here on HP, and I find it so interesting that your inspiration for this Hub came from one of the Forum topics.

The Forums here are great places to witness rudeness at its best.

Grown-ups often don't understand how important those early years in a child's development are. Thanks for bringing light to the subject and possibly making some think and act with more responsibility.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

thank you for coming by and reading and taking the time to comment. I'm still somewhat new around here, so I walked into a political forum a couple weeks ago, and decided to write this. I realize a forum is where people can express their views, but I'm mildly amazed at the sheer rudeness and attacks in some of these forums. again thank you!


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

The first words consistently used by of all my boys have been 'thank you.' It was not something I consciously taught, but something they have picked up through our day to day interaction. It was through this that I saw the importance of modeling the behavior I want them to exhibit.

Unfortunately, they have picked up bad things too.


jenblacksheep profile image

jenblacksheep 6 years ago from England

One of my biggest fears is that if/when I have kids they will be rude/disrespectful/unruly etc. This hub has actually given me some comfort and re-assured me that it won't be as difficult as I imagine it to be!

Thanx for the great hub :D


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

Thank you for such a nice compliment. It doesn't matter where the child lives, his societal status, his I.Q., if you teach and model respect with love, it is possibly the greatest gift you can give your child.


Chin chin profile image

Chin chin 6 years ago from Philippines

Teaching values in a child is really foremost the responsibility of the parents. And who the child is reflects who the parents are - most of the time. I better watch out what I teach my children. Thanks for reminding me.


lxxy profile image

lxxy 6 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

"If you want your child to share your values, make sure they are evident in your own behavior and home."

Can't agree any more.

It's truly the simple down to whatever planet your from that makes all the difference, I believe. Just don't shelter them forever. ;)


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

thanks for stopping by and commenting. chin chin, yes a child reflects his environment and it will be his greatest teacher. :)

@lxxy, love what you say about not sheltering them. someone once told me that a parent's job is to teach our children how to discover their own self, ultimately to be independent, 'pared' away from the parents.


carriegoff profile image

carriegoff 6 years ago from Michigan

Fantastic hub! I couldn't agree more. I have tried to explain this concept to people who don't "get it" until it's too late. If you don't have time to spend with a child from birth to five, and when you are with them, you treat them with disrespect and unkindness, you can hardly complain that when they are teenagers they are not interested in spending time with you and don't have a lot of respect for you. If I want my children to be close to me and value my friendship (for lack of a better word), I have to spend lots of time when they are young making them feel safe, secure and valued. If I treat them like their purpose is to make me feel important and ignore them except when they make me feel appreciated, I will lose any relationship with them. Thank you for your hub.


Sue Adams profile image

Sue Adams 6 years ago from Andalusia

The key is definitely a respect for the individual child, and the mirror effect. Many adults have lost touch and forgotten what it's like to be a child. That won't do. You need a driving license to drive a car but any moron can become a parent. Prospective parents should have to pass a test before being allowed to breed.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

absoultely agree with this one passing values to the children, so that thye will be grounded and knows how to deal with life as they grow older....I have children too, and as much as possible I teach them traditions of values--respect is one


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

thanks for the nice comments, fellow hubbers. respect is something that we all need and certainly our children need to be respected as an individual. not always easy, but worth it!


Crazdwriter 6 years ago

Great hub, rebekah....as a teacher I would try to hopefully teach the children respect as well as other values; their parents telling me what values they are teaching their kids and I do my part in helping them by continuing the teachings of their parents. :-)


jaybojas profile image

jaybojas 6 years ago

fantastic hub. i do really like this hub. they are right down to the point. a kid living in a love and respect zone will grow up with love and respect and continue the zone on and on.


Abi 6 years ago

This is a wonderful article. A system of beliefs and values is integral to a child's sense of self and well being. Now, more than ever, teaching values at a young age is important. We use this site with our kids weekly http://www.myyoungchild.org


Zenani profile image

Zenani 6 years ago

Absolutely beautiful article. I want to recommend it as required reading to the young mothers in my Life Group.

Love the picture at the beginning too. Congratulations on a great hub!


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

Zenani, thank you so much. you are more than welcome to share with your reading group. anyway we can help parents with their immense responsibility of raising respectful children is

a plus for society and civilization. I appreciate your comments and action to help others. :)


2uesday profile image

2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

Being a good parent is not always easy at times it is a challenge but so rewarding, I was lucky in being able to spend time with my family when they were small. A useful and helpful hub.


asipple profile image

asipple 6 years ago from South Jersey

What a great article. Thanks.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Good and very wonderful hub Ms Rebekkah, respect for them and modeling too what a good behavior is, What a wonderful world if all children can learn values....

thnaks again, Maita


Dao Hoa profile image

Dao Hoa 6 years ago

Great article! Today many parents are too busy making money and leave this to the teachers to teach to their children.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Great article, beautifully written.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

thanks so much for all of your comments. it sure is an important topic and I appreciate you reading and leaving your thoughts. Yes, dao hoa, today's parents are very busy, often too busy and teachers are left to teach character and values to these kids. without instruction, the children are left to observe that which is around them, and we know that isn't always the best influence. I've also seen some amazing situations where parents do make the time they have with their family quality time. Bravo to all of them.


younan 6 years ago

that's fin

i`m trainer in my country in value life programme

i need another information about how you can discover the contain of value in your child and youth and women she lose her wife


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

Very good hub.


annmeadows profile image

annmeadows 6 years ago from Mobile, Al.

We should all be concerned about who our children spend the majority of their time with.


izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

I totally agree. I see such a difference between kids raised with respect versus without. Many parents raise their kids with a do as I say, not as I do attitude. I am aware my daughter is watching even if I don't think she is. Now i just have to train my husband- he still is an authoritative type parent. For example, he'll tell the dog to shut-up, and then wonder why my daughter says it too. He just hasn't made that connection. How do you train the parent?


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

As someone in education for the past 25 years, I have seen kids becoming more and more disrespectful. I wonder if it's because parents are more involved in their jobs, or is it the banning of smacking by many?


klarawieck 6 years ago

Rebeka, this is a beautiful hub on a very important subject. You give wonderful advice on this. Thank you.


Ms Val Fitness profile image

Ms Val Fitness 6 years ago

This subject is so important. With today's generation it's all about me attitude. I wish parents would teach kids the value of respect for others. Sadly, until parents change I don't think we will ever go back to respecting others. Technology is dehumanizing us....


Pits2Luv@aol.com 5 years ago

Perfection! I loved how you outlined the important things that a child must learn.


L.I.N.C 5 years ago

Values vary so much in this world, from one culture to another. It does give diversity and 'coloufulness' to this earth.

The important factor I think we need to remember is that without a strong relationship, we can not teach nor hand down our values to our children. Think of relationship as the power lines of transmission. If we are not attaching to the person who is teaching us, if we are not deferring to them, if we are not trying to measure up nor looking up to them (isn't that what we would hope for in the teachers of our children ?), than they can preach ALL they want, we won't walk away carrying those teachings within us.

Unfortunately some of those scary, warped cults get the essence of this and work the relationship perfectly in order to get their members to follow unabashedly their every word. It is very powerful.

It is all about relationship.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 5 years ago from Tampa Bay Author

Thanks all, for the comments.

L.I.N.C., I like the way you describe the connection. Without the transmission, values are lost. We give attention and time to that which we value and respect. Parents can help by being more aware and mindful while present with their children. It is all about relationship, yes. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

Beautifully written and useful article.As the poet/writer Khalil Gibran puts it (paraphrased here), we see the parents in their children's eyes.


Deepika Pokhriyal 5 years ago

Impressive article........


Painted Seahorse profile image

Painted Seahorse 4 years ago from Woodstock, GA

I agree, the best thing parents can do is model the behavior and the values they want their children to learn. I've come across people who speak nastily to others when their children are present, and it bothers me that they're demonstrating for their kids how not to act. The best way for parents to show kids how to treat others with respect is to speak respectfully to them and to other adults: spouses, teachers, coaches, cashiers, etc. Very nice hub!


kelleyward 4 years ago

Values are so important in learning to be empathetic people. Thanks for sharing your expletives with us!


Topmost 4 years ago

Your article is very interesting and impressive.Thanks and I pray God will increase your knowledge.


klarawieck 2 years ago

Hi, Rebekah. I especially liked the idea of having the child chose what is important to him and narrowing it down to a small list so that he/she can be his/her own person. Thanks for this great reminder. Hugs!

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