Parents want their children to grow up to be moral adults, but for this to happen, values need to be taught from a young age. Throughout childhood your kids watch and listen to everything you say and do, even when you may not realize it. This is why it is so important to not only teach your children values but to model those values yourself in your everyday life, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics website, HealthyChildren.org.
Generosity and Sharing
Generosity is an important value for children to learn because it is a critical part of forming healthy relationships and it teaches them about sharing. Sharing is not always easy for young children because they often have a feeling of possessiveness when it comes to certain things, such as toys, notes AskDrSears.com. Up until the age of 3, children are unable to even understand the concept. While sharing at ages 3 and 4 is difficult, it's still a prime time to plant the seeds by modeling and encouraging sharing behavior. Don't be disheartened if your toddler or preschooler doesn't get the hang of it right away -- it will happen in time. Make learning about generosity a fun and regular part of your daily activities.
Kindness and Respect
There are many ways to teach your child to be kind to others. At play dates, encourage her to respond kindly to her friends and include everyone in activities. Teach her to comfort her friends when they are upset. This could mean creating a get well soon card for a sick friend or inviting a friend, who was not invited to another friend's birthday party or get together, over for a playdate. Respect is an important part of your child's life because it will help her to communicate well with others, according to Education.com. Showing respect to your child, your spouse and other people in your life is an effective way to model this important behavior. Extend that respect to your child; when she misbehaves, focus on her behavior -- not her personally -- when you are correcting her and remain respectful, advises parenting coach, Robyn Silverman, Ph.D. Take the time to listen to your child, so that she knows what she has to say is important to you. In turn, your child will learn to do the same for others.
Patience and Self-Confidence
Patience certainly isn't easy for young children but it is an important value to learn. It will teach your child to stay calm and show self-control, even in difficult situations. Help your child learn how to be patient by playing waiting games. He could sing to pass the time, draw a picture or play a guessing game with you. Teach him ways to calm himself when he becomes frustrated and impatient, whether it's by taking deep breaths or talking about why he is feeling that way. Another value to teach is self-confidence. A healthy self-esteem is an important part of raising a successful child. Show your child love and affection, so that he knows he is cared about. Be positive around your child and take time out to play with him. Encourage your child to try new things and support his talents when he finds something he does well.
Honesty and Trust
Honesty and trust are also important values to instill in children. Trust is learned at a young age. From the beginning, you gain your baby's trust by loving her, caring for her and being a consistent part of her life. Honesty is a bit harder for young children to understand. Until your child is 3 or 4, she likely won't grasp the concept of truth and lies. So, don't be surprised when your toddler or preschooler fibs to you. Continue to model trust and honesty. If you promise something to your child, follow through with the promise. If your child fibs but then fesses up, reward her honesty. Tell her you are proud of her for telling the truth. Read books to your preschooler that teaches lessons about trust and honesty, recommends the University of Illinois Extension. Books include "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" by Katherine Evans, "The Apple and the Arrow" by Mary and Conrad Buff and "Tales of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter.