The recent years have seen a significant rise in the instances of juvenile crime in the U.S. Although statistics may vary from state to state, the American Civil Liberties Union reports that close to 60,000 young people below the age of 18 are imprisoned for various crimes they have committed. Unfortunately, a prison term is only the beginning of a lifetime of trauma and perhaps, more crime. Kids are taken away from their families and the security of loving homes, and because of the break in their education, they are likely to spend their lives engaging in violence and more criminal acts.
As concerned parents, you will want to take the necessary steps to inculcate moral values in your kids so they are protected from a life of crime that is sure to destroy their futures. Child psychologists will tell you that the best time to ingrain the right principles is when your kids are still young. Childhood is the best time for introducing young people to the basics of what is and isn’t good behavior. Read ahead for the best methods to raise children so they always choose the right path.
1. Introduce Kids to Ethical Behavior by Taking Them to Church:
As the pastors Steve and Becky Riggle at Grace Church Houston explain, create an environment of religious prayer and belief in God. Take your children to a place of worship regularly where they learn about ethical living and the importance of avoiding behavior that can hurt other people. Inculcate moral values in your kids so they are empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of other people. Teach them that the Almighty frowns upon those who lie, cheat, and hurt others. Knowing that there is a force greater than the rest of us that watches our actions and rewards us for good acts is a good place to start.
2. Protect Your Kids from Peer Pressure:
Many kids start to imitate their friends and peers by age 7. Since they are too young to make the distinction between right and wrong, following what their friends tell them is a common problem. Before your kids reach this age, you should have started to inculcate moral values in your kids by teaching them respect for your authority and obedience. Before they go out into the world to meet other people, make sure you develop an atmosphere of security in the family that kids can rely on. You can make this happen with lots of unconditional love and including them in family chores to instill responsibility.
Keep a close watch on the kids they interact with and the kind of games they play. Above all, you need to remain alert to unexpected behavior and thought processes that they can pick up from other children. Make sure you open lines of communication so your kids talk to you about the time they spend with peers. Welcome questions about situations they don’t understand or are uncomfortable with.
3. Teach Values by Demonstration:
Like this feature on Focus on the Family explains, more than your words, kids listen to your actions that they will emulate very carefully. When trying to inculcate moral values in your kids, pay close attention to how you behave around them. Be polite with your spouse and always be truthful. Ask permission before taking things that belong to another family member even if it is the kids. Use words like, “Please,” “Thank You,” and May I?” Teach your kids to be respectful of others and their property. Simple actions like carefully paying for every item in your grocery cart and returning a wallet someone accidentally dropped indicates valuable lessons. Also keep in mind that moral lessons need to be repeated and reinforced from time to time until they are firmly ingrained in young minds.
4. Appreciate Good Actions:
If you’re looking for the most potent tool to help your kids learn moral ethics, it is positive reinforcement. Praise, hugs, and applause each time a child follows the right path will go a long way to inculcate moral values in your kids. If there is one sentence children love to hear from their parents, it is – I am so proud of you! You did the right thing. And, yes! Rewards work well too. For especially great actions, the rewards could include ice cream, an extra hour of television, or a picnic.
5. Make Them Take Responsibility for Wrongdoing:
Kids slip up all the time. As vigilant parents, you need to be watchful of a lie, stolen item, rude remark, or any other unacceptable behavior. Not only do you have to tell them that what they did was wrong, but also make them apologize and own up. Make them return stolen items by accompanying them if you have to for moral support. If they lied, make them tell the truth and again, apologize. Children need to learn embarrassment at a young age and that any wrong acts will have consequences.
6. Talk About Your Experiences:
Kids love to listen to stories about their parents’ experiences as children. Check out this article in the Parenting magazine that explains how you can teach moral fortitude by relating instances where you had to choose between right and wrong. Let them know that it is natural to be angry, envious, and hurt. It is okay to dislike people because of how they treat you. But, also inculcate moral values in your kids so that they learn to forgive and forget, and become better people. Having negative thoughts is a human trait. What is important is how to handle the negativity and turn it into positive thoughts that will enrich souls. For more information on how to help your kids handle anger and frustration, check out this feature on Psychology Today.
Being a parent and responsible for a young person’s future is a huge task. It is up to you to make the right choices and pass them on to your children. Develop strong bonds with your children so that they develop the moral fortitude to make the right choices in their life ahead. The lessons you instill in them today will stand them in good stead all through their adult lives.