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Teach Your Child to Do the Right Thing

As our children get older little by little they become less and less dependent on their parents. As they get more independent they spend more hours outside of their home environment; including school, extra curricular activities, spending time with their friends, etc. While we hope we have taught our children to do the right thing when a variety of situations are presented to them it doesn’t always work in our favor.

You can take preventative measures to make sure your child does the right thing both in your presence and when you’re not around.

WORDS OF CAUTION: While you are teaching your youngsters to “Do the Right Thing Efor other people, I urge you to stress to your children not to help a neighbor or stranger who they don’t know (not to help any grown-up without the consent and knowledge of their parents). This can only get your children intoextremely dangerous situations. See the article “Teach Your Children How to Be Aware of Stranger Danger E

Preschool
Although young, most preschoolers automatically do the right thing. As though it is a value automatically instilled into our children. But our guiding tools will keep them on the path to doing the right thing by, first setting good examples; hold a door open for a stranger, pick up something that someone dropped, help those in need whatever the situation might be, while your child is attentive (although this should be something we do automatically).

Talk to your child about what it means to do the right thing and provide examples of situations in which to do the right thing. Offering help to mommy and daddy working around the house is doing the right thing, picking up your toys as soon as you’ve finished playing with them is doing the right thing, being kind to others, picking something up if someone drops something, turning in a lost purse or wallet (even if it has money in it) is doing the right thing.

Main points to address:

  • Teach by example  Eallow them to see you doing the right thing.
  • Read stories that incorporate the benefits of doing the right thing.
  • Talk about a variety of situations in which the characters does the right thing.

Grades K-3rd
Provide hypothetical situations for your child and ask them what they would do in that situation, “if you found a wallet or a purse on the side of the road, what would you do with it? E“If an elderly woman dropped something next to you, what would you do? EAllow your child to answer without you giving direction or choices. Once they answer you can instruct them more, should their answer need instruction, “it would be the right thing to help other people in any way you can.”

As always guide them instead of forcing your opinion on your child, encourage and guide. “I am so proud to know that you would help that person with their schoolwork, that’s doing the right thing right there.”

You are exemplifying someone doing the right thing constantly, be sure to not get overly upset when someone cuts you off on the road, or get too anxious when the line at the grocery store is taking to long, use that time to talk to your child. In fact, if you have a cart full and the guy behind you has only a handful of things let him go before you. Use every opportunity you have to show your child how someone can do the right thing.

Main points to address:

  • Talk to your children about situations where doing the right thing is an option.
  • Encourage and guide them, instead of forcing.
  • Don’t allow anger over small things to push your teaching back. Instead allow these to be teachable moments.

Grades 4th-6th
Ask them when they are in a situation where they have to make a decision between doing something for someone else, first make sure that this is appropriate and safe for you  Ethen ask them to think about how it would make them feel either way. Say they found a wallet that had money in it, how would it make them feel if they found the owner and gave it back to them or how would they feel if they kept the money.

Allow everyday situations to become the grounds for talking to your child and teaching them about using good judgment. Allow them to talk to you about their friends and the things they might have done in school that your child was upset about. “Amanda borrowed my pencil and she never gave it back. E“Jane said she didn’t want to be Angie’s friend, and that made me really mad.”

These might seem like tiny issues to you, but they are major to your child and can be great tools to use for backing up your values of doing the right thing. “You might be upset about the pencil, but there might be something else going on in her life that we don’t know about. Although you know that if you borrow something the right thing to do is give it back right away, I think we should just get you another pencil so you’re not so worried about that one.” 

Main points to address:

  • Talk to them about situations that could lead to someone doing the right thing, ask them what they would do in those situations.
  • Talk to them about their feelings, on both ends  Eif they did the right thing and if they didn’t.
  • Allow them to discuss their small problems with friends, use the situation to back up your value of doing the right thing.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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