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Seven ways to teach moral values to children

1. Teachable moments. Lessons are okay, but when you can teach children about morals in real-life situations, the message sticks. When an opportunity presents itself, don’t worry about following your lesson plan – go with the flow and talk to your child.

2. Moral model. Give yourself a moral check-up and see if you are setting a good example for your child. Then spend time with your child outside of “lesson time.” Let them see you and your good morals in various situations.

3. Make guidelines. Make a poster of moral rules, post it and verbally tell children what the rules mean. Things like: “Always think of others first.” “Always tell the truth, no matter how hard.” “Have the courage to do what’s right.”

4. Examples of other children. Make a list of morals or traits that you want your children to have: compassion, citizenship, truthfulness, accountability. Then find stories of children who demonstrate those traits. Share the stories of how others their age are making a difference and doing good in the world.

5. Change punishments. When the need arises, don’t punish your child by shaming them. Come up with an idea to let the child learn and make amends. Have a child tell a lie? Don’t only reprimand the child, discuss the action and how the lie impacts others. Confessing the truth and suitable consequence follow. Just remember, always give a child the chance to change.

6. Story time. Research suggests that when children hear stories where the hero learns to tell the truth, they are more likely to tell the truth themselves. Other studies agree that children remember the moral lessons taught in stories. You could point out moral lessons from the newest movie or talk about the classic ethics taught from Aesop’s fables. Anything children read or watch can be used to open the door to a conversation on morals.