How to Shape Your Kids to be Better Adults

Dear parents, you are not just raising a child, you are also raising a future adult. Wouldn’t you want your child to grow into mature, kind and responsible adult? There are some qualities which are universally valued and accepted as virtues that any great person lives by like honesty, integrity, reverence, modesty to name a few.

I’m sure you have heard of virtues and you might even have full or part understanding of the same. However, virtues are still either overlooked or seen as something that can’t be taught by many of us. Contrary to this notion, it has been proven that virtues can be developed through regular learning and diligent practice. The easiest way to imbibe a virtue in your life is by setting goals to improve your behaviour in that virtue. 

Each new year marks a great time to help your kids form new habits. 2021 is an even better opportunity, since 2020 taught us how to live a fulfilling life. If you’re someone who follows the tradition of forming new year resolutions, it’s a good time to pass it on to your kids. If you’re someone who is not into resolutions, try and treat it as goals you want to set, in order to bring out the best version of your child.

What you need to remember: Virtues are good habits developed out of love for others.  When you begin growing in one virtue, you’ll end up growing in many of them simultaneously! 

Kids can change the world. All they need is a little inspiration!

Virtues For Preschoolers :

  • THANKFULNESS: Have your kid say ‘thank you’ every time someone (including you- the ‘parent’) makes a good gesture. This will help them learn to not take people and even the smallest things in life for granted. 
  • CONSCIOUS LIVING: Explain to them the importance of conserving water and then, ask them to not stay under running water/ shower for more than 5 minutes. (A low-flow shower head uses about eight litres a minute, or 75 litres for a 10-minute shower.) Make them act as ‘leak detectors’ i.e. if they find any tap leaking or not properly closed, they should report it to you. Talk to them about not using one-time plastic disposables (they will thank you years later for having saved the planet for them).
  • CLEANLINESS: Have them clean up after they have eaten and ask them to properly keep their dirty utensils in the sink. Also, ensure that they clean up their playing space themselves, by keeping toys back in order. 
  • SHARING: One of the most crucial virtues to develop in your child at this age is the virtue of sharing. Keep in mind, that at later stages, the process of explaining the importance of sharing becomes forceful as your child may be already used to the idea of pampering. The act of sharing weaves the path to compassion and empathy. You can have them share their toys with friends/siblings; have them give away their old/not-in-use toys and clothes to the underprivileged. 

Virtues For Kids (Aged 5 to 12 years) :

  • PUNCTUALITY: Importance of being on time is the first step towards building rapport and credibility. 
  • RESPONSIBILITY: Want to make your kid responsible? Make it a point that they make their bed themselves everyday. As small as it may sound, making one’s own bed fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment, and subconsciously encourages us to take on other daily tasks head-on.  
  • COURAGE: Teach them to be courageous enough to stand up for the right and ask them to report to an adult about anything wrong that they see or hear about. Encourage them to never bully someone or succumb to bullying.
  • HUMILITY: Humble people do not consider themselves to be superior than others. Instead, they encourage and uplift others. Have your child not to trash anyone including themselves. Humility is important to breed self-esteem because it keeps one focused on one’s own growth rather than on the faults/flaws of others.

Virtues For Teens :

  • ASSERTIVENESS: Being assertive means being confident in one’s opinion and still being respectful towards others’ point of view.  It is about knowing and accepting one’s and others’ strengths and areas of improvements. Teach your child to talk in an assertive way wherein they are honest, clear and respectful. 
  • SELF DISCIPLINE: Teenage is the best time to start making your children more disciplined. If they don’t have a habit of making their beds yet, ask them to start with that. You can also ask them to make to-do lists for themselves and cross it off within an allotted time.
  • INTEGRITY: It is important to teach your children the value of truthfulness. Teenage is a dynamic period where things can go for a toss. Insist them to choose honesty and integrity over enticing short-term benefits like lies and immorality. Keeping an open mind and open communication with their parents can help children stay true to who they are and what they believe in.  
  • FORGIVENESS: Again, this is a ripe age when your children are highly susceptible to engaging in the stupidest of fights and holding trivial grudges. Teach them the importance of forgiveness and have your child forgive friends (and others) for their wrong doings. But most importantly, have them forgive themselves, if they didn’t achieve/behave as expected.

I hope you realise the importance of these virtues and the long lasting impact they can have in shaping a person’s adult life. I’m sure you could recall one or two such virtues you picked up in your childhood and some you wish you had.

A person’s behaviour is determined by both nature and nurture. So by that logic, if you set out to instill all the above mentioned virtues, they will at least pick up one unconsciously that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. And trust me, once they grow up to realise that, they will forever be thankful to you for having inculcated good virtues in them.

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