In recent years, many schools have tried to add moral and character development into their curriculum. As essential as schools are in teaching good values, families play an even more crucial role in raising young men of integrity. So how do you teach your son good values?
Character is defined by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham as “a set of personal traits that produce specific moral emotions, inform motivation and guide conduct.” Teaching good values is about “helping students grasp what is ethically important in situations and how to act for the right reasons, so that they become more autonomous and reflective.”
Whether consciously or not, we teach values to kids every day. The question isn’t if you should teach values, but rather, what core values are being taught. Children pick up on personal values by observing what the adults in their lives do. Research suggests that when parents have a strong relationship with their son, the way he sees his world is filtered through the values he has learned from them. If your son has defined his character around the values you have taught him, he is also more likely to choose friends whose values are aligned with yours.
Yet the reality is, values are not developed automatically or magically — it needs to be taught consciously and intentionally.
Here are a few ways you can teach your son good values.
1. Help him see the relevance of values
For a boy, values can seem very theoretical and conceptual until he realises just how prevalent it is in his life. There are countless decisions that your son will make over his life, and having strong core values will help guide him to make these decisions.
- Should he be allowed to leave his football club halfway through the season because the team isn’t performing very well?
- Should he invite someone to his birthday that others may look down on?
- Should he cheat on his test just to get a good grade?
When your son reads a book or you watch a movie together, take the time to discuss the lessons learned and principles you can take away from the stories. This will assist your son in seeing the relevance of values.
2. Model good values
Your son watches you more than you realise — so what example are you demonstrating? Make sure that there is consistency in what you say and what you do. For example, if you talk about the importance of teamwork and perseverance when it comes to sports, but get disgruntled when your son loses a competition, he will pick up that winning is more important than anything else.
Help your son understand why you make certain decisions, and don’t be shy to explicitly talk about your values and why they are important to you. Helping your son to interpret the world is a key responsibility.
3. Celebrate your son when he demonstrates good values
When you see your son demonstrate a value that’s important — such as being generous or honest — specifically point it out to him and celebrate it. Let him know that you noticed when he forgave his younger sister for hurting him, or that he persevered with his science project when he found it challenging. When you do this, you are encouraging him to continue demonstrating these values which over time will become his character.
Taking these intentional steps with your son will go a long way in developing good character and respect. At Christ Church Grammar School we are commited to building good men. To discover more helpful tips and insights in raising boys, subscribe to our enewsletter.