There are 10 important reasons why parents would want to establish sound family values based on developing virtues in their children:
1) Authentic self-esteem
Positive self-esteem is a direct consequence of acknowledging and affirming a child’s core virtues. This is very different to the more superficial and generalized ‘good girl’, or ‘great kid’, or the more effusive ‘high 5’. This is praise, and praise feeds the ego and has the child become dependent on more and more praise. It does not, however, develop the child’s character. Healthy self-esteem enables children to aspire, dream, achieve their goals, and above all be content and happy.
2) A strong sense of belonging
This comes to those children who feel safe, joyful and open to learning, and who are in touch with their inner qualities. This occurs when we acknowledge the child’s qualities of character, name the particular virtue and link it to the child’s behaviours. E.g. ‘you were very considerate when you shared your pencils with Sarah, thank you’. These acknowledgements have far reaching impact on allowing children to determine who they really are, rather than be left guessing what specific behaviours were being affirmed by the non-specific ‘good girl’ , ‘great kid’, comments.
3) A positive inner voice
We grow up believing what we were told we were as children. Children who are told they will not amount to anything, are dumb, stupid, messy, difficult, or are losers etc., will grow to adulthood with this firm negative self-belief – even if it is obviously untrue. The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. Virtues education is the golden opportunity to create a positive inner voice that lets children know that they are considerate, helpful, respectful, loving, kind, joyful, creative, generous, confident etc.
4) Reaching their full potential
We have this precious opportunity through virtues education, to ensure that our children reach their full potential as human beings. Children who grow knowing themselves to be courageous, helpful, respectful, compassionate, reliable, and loving, are confident and purposeful enough to take their place as responsible citizens. Unlocking these qualities of character unleashes potential, so that the children know they are capable of fulfilling their dreams – whatever those dreams may be.
5) Creating peaceful, happy environments
Virtues education offers an exciting opportunity to integrate virtues into the home environment. Selecting a virtue of the week that all members of the family agree to learn about and practise can change the dynamics in the home. Children very quickly adopt the language of the virtues and begin to use it with each other. When we correct children using a virtues correction such as ‘I need you to use your patience right now’, we hand power and control back to them to make choices about their behaviours.
5) Generating health and well-being
When we are given a virtues acknowledgement, or use the virtues affirmations, it actually touches our heart. Research tells us that when you speak to a person about their virtues – their inherent character strengths, there is a physical response. Their heart begins to beat at an optimal rate. Their immune system is strengthened, and their whole body moves into a calm, state of well-being. When we understand, notice and name virtues, our body, mind and heart are nourished.
7) Developing meaningful communication
The basis of effective communication with our children is a good relationship based on trust and love. Basically this means walking our own talk. It means being prepared to take the journey of learning and practising virtues along with our children. We cannot seriously expect children to take on our urging for them to be respectful and patient, if we deliver this request in a harsh, disrespectful and impatient tone. We cannot expect them to practice trust if we aren’t prepared to diligently deliver on our own promises to them.
“The latest research findings indicate that the development of a child’s moral character has a direct impact on academic results. This is now considered so important in the United States that 27 States have now mandated the offering of what they are calling character education.” Dr. Arini Beaumaris
9) Capturing the moment
The first years of life are the most fertile years of the child’s brain development, when massive amounts of information are being processed and neuron pathways established. This is the time when most aspects of the child’s future will be established. It is the golden opportunity for character development through virtues education to be effective
10) Developing Moral Character
The foundation to moral education occurs in the early years of a child’s education – ideally in the first six years. Of course it is never too late to learn, but the later we leave it the harder it gets.
A wonderful resource to assist your family to develop a virtues based set of family values is the embrace virtues large format virtues cards. A purposeful program of virtues based character development nourishes the home environment, assures the child’s well-being and assists children to reach their full potential.