The word ‘values’ gets tossed around a lot. Our values are our deeply held beliefs, but more than that, they are the way in which we respond to others, ourselves, and the place from which we strive to operate in this world.
As an agency, we also take our values seriously, seeing if our candidates will be a great reflection of our core values to our clients. We often ask this exact question in our interviews with our candidates and clients:
What would you say are the top 3-5 values you hope to instill in a child so that they may carry them into adulthood?
Here are three simple rules to live by to help instill values into children in your care:
1. Toss Out The Old Adage, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”
Be aware that your child sees everything you do (scary!), the good and the not-so-good. You may tell them to be patient, kind, and understanding, but if they don’t see this, they won’t practice it. For example…
- How do you react when someone messes up your order?
- What subtle shifts in your behavior happen when walking behind a person who is distractedly text-messaging?
- How do you speak about other people in front of them, and what does your tone, judgments, and assumptions about the other person indirectly tell your child is an acceptable way to approach a situation?
- Do your children regularly see you taking care of yourself, exercising, eating with decent nutrition, reading a book, or working hard in your job?
2. Extend Your Values To Them As Well
A lot of parents and nannies would say that they want to teach a child to respect others, forgetting that the child is also someone who needs to be shown patience, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness and respect, too! The best way to instill values into children is simply by letting them experience what it feels like to receive these things.
- Demonstrate your respect for their individuality by giving them warnings before transition times, or letting them pick the order of activities they like, or tasks that must be done. Make sure they have space in the home where they may continually work on a project, like their figurines, Legos or block building, without having to clean it up every time. (Ex: “We need to get ready for swimming in 15 minutes, so I will give you one five minute warning when it’s time to put down your book.”)
- Show them understanding by listening and responding to their cries, even when you are firm about your demand. (Ex: “I hear that you don’t want to put on your shoes. It is hard sometimes to get ready in the morning! But times are up now, and we need to get moving together.”) This isn’t to say don’t exercise a boundary or enforce what you need them to do — just to say that you understand they are upset. Sometimes being understood is all a child needs to feel your love and cope with discomfort.
3. Admit Your Mistakes
Don’t be afraid to own up to a misstep. No one is perfect, and to not admit when you’ve done wrong may lead to your child feeling that they have to hide their mistakes from you for fear that you may reject their error.
- If you snapped at them and lost your patience as we all do, apologize for it, and say that even grown-ups make mistakes. You can always restate that you still expect them to listen to what you say, but that next time there may be a consequence without you losing your temper.
- If they feel disrespected because you need to rush them out the door, explain why — maybe you overslept or weren’t feeling well, or maybe they just didn’t listen to your “Time’s up” warnings, and the consequence was that they had to stop at an inconvenient moment.
- Model “openness” in an appropriate manner: it’s so much easier for a child to be open with you about their struggles if you are also modeling that openness, too.
Of course, we all want our children to be high achievers, and have fun in life. We want them to be forgiving and kind, and we want them to also be assertive and stand their ground when it’s time. We all want them to be respectful, and we want them to also recognize their right to being respected. The trick for us to successfully instill values into children is finding where the balance lies within each family. You want to make sure your caregiver is aligned with these values, and give them wiggle room to do things a little differently than you would. This is where great communication comes in handy, particularly those weekly check-ins. We’d love to hear from you about your experiences both as a parent and caregiver!
Are you looking for an exceptional newborn care specialist or nanny? Get in touch!
Do you have what it takes to be an Adventure Nanny? Apply Now!
To find out more about Adventure Nannies, get in touch!