How To Raise Your Kids With Healthy Values Part 2

How To Raise Your Kids With Healthy Values Part 2

by Dr. Andy Yarborough

Now that we've taken the time to discuss what values are and what's values-based parenting in part 1, let's dive into how you can actually implement this framework into your life!

1. Defining and Communication

Values have to be defined and communicated.

Note - it's important to remember that while we're focused on parenting, these values need to be for the family. Not just your child. Remember, your life flows from your values. You won’t be able to consistently apply values to your parenting that aren’t applied to your life.

For starters, if you already have an idea of what some of your values are, write those down. It’s okay if you don’t. The following steps will help you.

After you write some down, if you have some ideas, look at this list of core values. This will help in giving you examples. While looking, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What is it about the people I look up to that I admire so much?
  1. What is my motivation behind things I enjoy and fulfill me?
  1. What is behind the things that frustrate me?

As you look through the list and ask yourself those questions, start choosing values.

After the steps above, select up to 8 that you want to be the core values of your family (do this step with your partner if you have one.) Don’t worry, you can make changes as you start to implement them. The win isn’t getting it perfect the first time. Unless of course your core value is perfection - good luck with that. The win is taking the first step.

If your child is a teenager, let them be a part of this exercise as well.

Once you settle those in, gather the entire family together and let them know about your new family values.

2. Mentoring and Affirmation

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just define and communicate your values and your job was done? Well this is where the real work begins!

Now that you’ve defined and communicated your values, you need to start mentoring your children towards and affirming them in those values.

You mentor your children when you go a step beyond obedience to understanding. Obedience is when we tell our kids what to do. Understanding is when we help our kids ask the right questions so they can start to think critically themselves.

Asking your child, “based on our values, what do you think is the best response here,” is always a great question to have at the ready. 

One time I was watching a movie with my kids and a specific scene in the movie modeled one of our values. I paused the film and asked them which one of our core values was just shown.

While I wouldn’t recommend turning every movie night into a lesson on values, look for everyday opportunities to mentor your children in your family’s core values.

With affirmation, you are finding moments in life to celebrate the values at work in your child. This is one of the most powerful ways we parent proactively. Instead of just reacting when they mess up, we affirm when they live up to the core values. Imagine how impacting it can be for a child that even if in a moment that feels like failure for them like a failed test, you affirmed them for being honest with you about it if honesty is one of your values.

In between the times of correction, your child is probably doing a lot of things right. But when parenting is focused on the absence of problems instead of the presence of growth, the good will often go unacknowledged. Always be on the lookout to affirm when they’re living out the core values.

While being proactive through mentoring and affirmation is essential for values-based parenting it’s certainly not enough. Believe it or not, even with raising my children with a values-based approach and being a clinical psychologist, my children still need correction!

So how do we correct through a values-based approach?

3. Violation and Consequences

Children certainly need correction and consequences. But when we provide consequences through a values-based approach, our correction isn’t a reaction but a response to further reinforce our values.

Values-based parenting places an emphasis on filling your kids with the right stuff, not just ridding them of the wrong. But you and I both know that if the wrong stuff is there, it can prevent the right stuff from being present.

This is why violation and consequences is an essential part of this approach.

Violation is when your child does or doesn’t do something that violates a value. Consequences are what follows the value violation to bring discipline.

While values are not behaviors, violations are behaviors. When a violation occurs, we want to connect the behavior to the value that has been violated. This serves to further reinforce the value. Once that has been communicated, we want to follow that up with an appropriate consequence.

When we don’t correct from our values, we can fall into attacking the character of our children instead of addressing the behavior. This is when they don’t clean their room and instead of focusing on the uncompleted chore, we call them lazy and messy. Character assassination, while it may have some evidence, generalizes a wrong behavior to an overall issue within the child. 

Now your child hasn’t just failed at cleaning their room, they’re now a lazy person. This can do more harm than good, and can often be more about us venting our own frustration than it is helping.

You can also end up holding your child responsible for your emotions. We should correct our kids for what they do or fail to do, but we shouldn’t correct them for how they make us feel. 

If we feel hurt our correction can often be more about getting revenge. If we feel angry it can become about exerting power over the situation and the child. You’re going to feel your emotions. Values won’t make them go away. But they will help you focus on what needs to be addressed in a moment of violation and keep the consequences appropriate.

You Can Do This

As I’ve said at the start, parenting is hard. Values-based parenting won’t make you a perfect parent, won’t make your kids perfect, and doesn’t make parenting easy. What it will do is provide you a clear strategy on how to parent your children so they’re not just good kids, but that they become mature adults. It gives you a firm foundation to parent well. And don’t worry, it’s never too late to begin this approach.

My goal is that you’d have hope for your parenting and for your children. And while I believe that what you’ve read provides clarity on how to get started, I’m sure you have just as many questions and will even have more along the way.

My ebook, Values-Based Parenting, goes into much more detail to better serve you as a parent.

Click here to get a copy!

Dr. Andy Yarborough

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