Are children really important in life
What really counts in life - discovering values with children
So the key question is how do you learn to be a “good person”?
- What can parents do to ensure that their children discover and live values sustainably?
- What does value education look like today, for a future worth living in?
That can mean: After a dispute, take the first step towards reconciliation. Offering an old person their own seat. Admit you've made a mistake. A future worth living will grow from children who are capable of it. But why do so many find it so difficult to act in this way? Perhaps because adults often talk about values instead of setting an example and conveying them in a child-friendly manner. Parents learn that values are something very concrete. That having your own flowerbed has to do with love and responsibility. That four-year-olds can figure out why non-violence is important. The “instructions for use” of the Chinese philosopher Confucius have remained relevant to the upbringing of children to this day:
Tell me - and I'll forget.
Show me - and I'll remember.
Let me do it - and I'll keep it.
Children learn values not through talking, but through action
So that values education does not stop at well-intentioned appeals, it must become part of everyday life - concrete, practical and realistic. For my new book: “What really counts in life - discovering values with children”, I spent months discussing with educators, parents and children what really counts in life and how best to pass on values. This has resulted in a rich collection of ideas with a lot of inspiration for everyone who wants to counteract social cold with something concrete.
Parents should always make themselves aware that children learn through imitation and repetition! According to the latest brain research, it takes around 50 times until a word, a value or an action is imprinted on the children's brain! Children copy our behavior, but at the same time they shape the way we deal with them. This touching text from a Tibetan wisdom sums it up:
“When a child is criticized, it learns to judge.
When a child is mocked, they learn to be shy.
When a child is embarrassed, they learn to feel guilty.
If a child is understood and tolerated, it learns to be patient.
When a child is encouraged, they learn to appreciate themselves.
If a child is treated fairly, it learns to be fair. "
Questioned, exemplified values of the parents take effect in practice
- You should have the courage to ask yourself questions like: What is important to me? What do I need to know about values? What are my own values? What values do I expect from others? What do they have to do with my behavior? How many values do people need? What is the minimum of mandatory rules? Which are outdated and which are urgently needed for a peaceful, humane coexistence?
- How can I pass on values in such a way that children understand them?
- Do not just demand obedience, but explain it if possible!
- Incorporate boundaries and sanctions into good, caring relationships.
- Be willing to work on yourself to be a good example to children.
Children need rules and values
It has been shown that even toddlers need rules and values. They can deal with rules every day in a playful and age-appropriate manner, measure their strength and push off their "horns" at given limits. Rules and values give them protection and security. It has been shown that children who grow up in a social environment with manageable boundaries are less afraid. They develop more confidence in themselves and their environment. By dealing with the family and kindergarten rules on a daily basis, you become capable of conflict in a good way. The foundation of their later worldview, their world of values par excellence, emerges from these values acquired in their early childhood. This only works if parents and carers face this challenge. Because of the variety of possible value orientations today, it is particularly important that you set clear limits and set clear values!
The focus is on the five great values
Interested readers will find many rituals, games and practical suggestions, ideas for conversation and family ideas in my book. Values are very concrete in everyday life. And children grow up with them as a matter of course if they meet them again and again in everyday life.
The "golden rule" is an ancient, universal principle and can be found in all religions in a modified form: "What you want people to do to you, you do to others too." This should be the immovable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, in family, kindergarten and school and for every community and nation. Even small children can understand this principle. For example, they understand that you shouldn't bite others, break their toys or take them away, because they don't like that for themselves either ...
We can build trust through honesty and truth. And children need basic trust in order to grow healthily into the world. Often the parents lie to the children for convenience. "Say on the phone: Dad is not at home!" - A situation we all know. How do parents react correctly when children cut open a teddy bear out of a thirst for knowledge in order to get to the bottom of the truth? Or invent fantastic stories at a magical age and sell them to us as "real"?
When a child experiences family members listening to one another, looking at one another, respecting and looking after one another, they will learn these traits naturally. Because the right handling of time, material, media, money, animals and plants has to be learned.
Peace and togetherness
we show our children through our actions. Because if we want to give something to the children, it should be a good example. Whining, nagging, yelling is definitely not the right way to go. Show gratitude, experience quiet moments with the children and find inner peace in conflicts, even more.
Children experience love when we see them in small things, replace bad thoughts with good ones, and show one another that we like, respect and love one another.
Violence must not be a means of confrontation with others. Arguing and dealing with conflicts are part of the natural learning processes, because they pose tasks that have to be solved and can usually be solved if both partners contribute. Fair arguing has to be learned! A comforting saying from Italy says: “There are no perfect parents and no perfect children, but all parents can be good”. Let us not forget that dealing with the topic of values education is always also an examination of your own values.
With children live values every day
The days of the week can help us and remind us of the practice of concrete values in everyday life. They are named after the seven ancient planets. When we have this simple grid in mind, it is easier for us to think about it again and again and to put human values into practice in small steps with the children.
- On Monday (moon) we pay special attention to the feelings. It is important for children to be able to talk about feelings, to know whether they are happy or sad and not to confuse tiredness with hunger or anger, for example.
- On Tuesday (Mars), fighting, fighting and cuddling games are spot on. Children today are often aggressive because they don't need enough strength and haven't learned to struggle with rules. It makes a big difference whether I throw a stone at someone originally or whether I just play “pretend-as-if” in role play.
- Wednesday (Mercury) stands for language, verses, riddles and stories. A good language development is extremely important for the children, therefore at least once a week consciously play with language, tell picture books, fairy tales and stories, guess puzzles etc.
- Thursday (Jupiter) is ideal for tidying up and "mucking out". Our children have way too many toys. It would be nice if you could find out once a week that less is more!
- On Friday (Venus) beauty is the trump card! Let's awaken the children's sense of beauty with flowers, jewelry, disguise clothes, colored stones or colored pencils. Let's admire a sunrise, a starry sky, a blossoming tree.
- Saturday (Saturn) helps with planning or dealing with the past and death. It is suitable for a trip to a castle, invites you to visit dinosaurs in the museum, look at Egyptian mummies or a cemetery.
- On Sunday (sun): Christ said: “I am the light of the world.” In the word Sunday the sun is hidden. Let us let the divine spark shine in us, let us support the children in building a healthy self-esteem!
It goes without saying that you can live any value on any day of the week. The list here is only intended as a suggestion and reminder.
The book on the subject:
- “What really counts in life - discovering values with children” by Susanne Stöcklin-Meier, 8th edition 2006, Kösel Verlag Munich
Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook
Author and contact
The children's and playbook author Susanne Stöcklin-Meier completed her training as a kindergarten teacher in Bern and worked as a kindergarten teacher in a village in the canton of Baselland. She is active in further training for kindergarten teachers, parenting and adult education. Today she lives with her husband in Diegten and is the mother of two grown daughters.
Created on April 3, 2007, last changed on April 16, 2010
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