Guest Post: 7 Ways To Teach Kids About Ethical Living

Life in Harmony

Children aren’t born with sterling characters. They need to be taught to consider the needs of others while learning how to take care of themselves. In a perfect world, we’d all work together in harmony, but we all need a little help before we can embrace a harmonious, ethical lifestyle.

What is Ethical Living?

When we talk about “ethical living” we’re referring to “Six Pillars of Character.”

• Fairness

• Responsibility

• Trustworthiness

• Caring / Kindness

• Citizenship

• Respect

Here 7 ways to promote these traits and create an ethical lifestyle.

1. Display Family Values (Fairness)

Gather as a family to discuss the principles you want upheld in your home. Allow everyone a chance to voice their opinions and ask questions. Make a list and agree on 3 to 5 tenets. Let the kids design a poster expressing the family code of ethics. Let your kids know that their priorities will probably change as they grow up, but for now, you’ll be teaching them how to co-exist within a family where everyone’s beliefs matter.

2. Own Your Actions (Responsibility)

If your daughter refuses to play nice with her neighbour, she probably won’t be invited to the neighbour’s birthday party. It falls to you to explain that her actions have caused this result. To help her grasp this, share personal stories of what happened when you made a poor choice (for example, the time you ran a red light and got a ticket) and explain that grown-ups suffer consequences too. Be sure to explain that it’s OK to make mistakes; mistakes offer the chance to make amends and to do better the next time around.

3. Model Behaviour (Trustworthiness)

Chances are if a child catches you in a lie, you’ll have a tough time winning back his trust. Therefore, be upfront and honest when talking with children. Listen to their thoughts and ask them questions so they know you hear what they’re saying and you value their opinions. Be open about the times that you’ve messed up so they know that no one (not even a parent!) is perfect. By demonstrating sincerity in all situations and acknowledging your personal flaws, your children will see the value in being truthful (even when they’d rather tell a tall-tale).

4. Consider Peers (Caring/Kindness)

Learning to take care of oneself isn’t enough. Children need to look beyond themselves, learn to cooperate, and consider the welfare of others. Sign them up for a sports team or the school chorus so they’ll practice working with others and factor in the needs of their peers. Kids are never too young to join you in volunteer work, whether it’s visiting a local senior centre or donating to an animal shelter. Help your kids write thank you notes, after receiving a gift; before long, expressing gratitude will become second nature.

5. Consider People Everywhere (Citizenship)

Encourage your kids to be curious about what happens beyond your immediate neighbourhood in all parts of the globe. Talk to them about the world events they see on TV or online or read about in a book. We all want to protect our kids from unhappy news, but there comes a time when they’ll learn about the injustice that exists in our world. Don’t shy away from these conversations. When you make time to discuss headlines your kids will develop an interest in what is going on in the world at large.

6. Consider the Earth (Respect)

Our surroundings support us, and it’s our job to maintain them the best we can. Teaching kids to garden is a perfect way to introduce the idea of sustainability. Planning and keeping a garden, regardless of its size, requires patience, care and commitment. Kids will learn first hand the benefits of gardening and acquire skills that they will rely on for years to come.

7. Shop Mindfully (Responsibility)

Teach your kids the basics of ethical shopping. Discuss how clothing is made and where your food comes from. Together research companies to learn about their practices. Take the whole family thrift store shopping before hitting the major chain stores. Committing to ethical shopping is hard, so start small. One idea is to make an effort to support local businesses and artists whenever possible.

Be the Change

It’s never too early to introduce ethical family values. Children are impressionable and open to guidance; they look to parents as teachers and role models. In other words, if we exhibit moral behaviour in our everyday actions, our kids will follow suit. In the future, they’ll learn to embrace (and expect) a world where positive beliefs are upheld and rewarded. When you encourage ethical living, you’re helping your family, and those around them, to embody the change you wish to see in the world today.

About the author:

Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three). You can find her blogging about everything from toys for kids to her failure at BLW over at Tiny Fry.

This post is linked with #FabFridayPost

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