Top 6 Values For Kids To Build Their Character

With a decline in ethics and values today, it is essential that parents inculcate values in their children. Here’s how to go about it.

By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj  • 8 min read

Top 6 Values For Kids To Build Their Character

Children’s material comfort, educational requirements, emotional needs, career aspirations – today, parents may put in every effort to ensure that they meet all these and more. But, how much do they focus on imparting values to their children? In a materialistic world that is ruled by audio-visual and social media, parents have an important role to play in bringing up children with good values and ethics. In the article, 'Becoming Moral: Introduction to the Special Issue on Early Moral Development', published in the Journal Human Development (Sept 2018), Judith G Smetana et. al provide evidence from their program of research that children’s ability to make distinctively moral judgments typically emerges around 3 years of age. So, shouldn't parents begin teaching values to their children early on?

Here we give you some powerful tips on how to teach values to kids, stories that impart morals for kids, and how parents can help raise morally intelligent children. But before that, let’s take a look at why it’s important to inculcate values in kids.

Importance of values for kids

For your child to shape up into a well-rounded individual, expose him to important life lessons early on in life. Instilling good morals in children helps them –

  • Understand the difference between right and wrong
  • Develop the right qualities and habits that lead them to success
  • Counter the negative influences in society
  • Become better citizens
  • Prepare for future roles in the society

Of course, in school there is ample opportunity to learn these values. Subjects such as moral science are taught by teachers who are aware of how to teach moral values to students.

But, as a parent, even you can play a role in teaching values like love, respect, compassion, patience, gratefulness, kindness, hard work, honesty and integrity to your child. To know more about how you can do this, read:

30 Life Lessons You Must Teach Your Child

10 Powerful Life Lessons We Should Teach Our Children

Values for kids: tips for character-building

Here are some tips for parents to make sure children uphold morals and values in their lives.

1. Be a role-model: This is the most important step. Be clear about your own sense of right and wrong, and establish the right standards for your child. Ensure that you practise what you preach. If you do not uphold values and principles in your day-to-day life but insist that your child does so, you would be sending across confusing messages to your little one. Also, there is the risk of your preschooler viewing you as a hypocrite. Remember, parental influence is very strong on a child when it comes to ethics and morals.

2. Define values: Unless you have your values clearly in place, you will not be able to explain them or pass them on to your child. Having a well-defined value system is essential to inculcating morals in your little one. For, your child will be influenced by the principles you stand for and wish to adopt. Also, defining values will help you have a clear sense of direction in life and enable your child to follow suit.

3. Prioritise moral development: Yes, physical, cognitive, emotional and social development are all important. And, as a parent, you need to focus on all these areas. However, the most important aspect of your child’s development is the moulding of her character. Therefore, unless you prioritise the moral development of your child, you cannot do much in teaching her values and ethics. Not only should you prioritise this aspect of your child’s development, but you should also stay committed in focussing on it.

4. Ensure incidental learning: Use daily happenings to instil values in your child. This can be the best approach to teaching him morals. Whenever someone is honest or kind point it out to your child. Also, when someone doesn’t uphold values, explain to your child the repercussions. Let your child learn from what he observes around him. When he is involved in circumstances that offer scope for upholding morals, encourage him. You can, especially, use playtime to impart these lessons. Such experiential learning will go a long way in helping to raise him with a strong sense of values. In fact, you can tap every teachable moment possible to impart values to your child.

5. Narrate stories and fables: What better way than narrating or reading stories with a message to impart morals to your child. They are rich resources to teach values. Be it bedtime stories or light-reads in the evenings, weave values into them. Aesop’s fables, stories from the Bible and scriptures – all these abound in moral narratives. Your little one will relate more to stories than any other form of teaching. Therefore, use them in abundance to inculcate values in your child.

6. Applaud good behaviour: Remember, it is important to recognise the demonstration of good values. So, whenever you notice your child's words or actions reflecting good values, appreciate it. For example, when your child is truthful or shares something, appreciate his good behaviour. Such appreciation will help reinforce the upholding of good values. On the other hand, if you notice unsatisfactory behaviour, exercise caution in dealing with it. Do not punish your child. Sit down with him and talk to him about it. Avoid lecturing; rather, explain to him why it is wrong to behave in such a manner and what consequences it can have. Make sure you establish a connect with your child while talking to him about his unacceptable behaviour. This will encourage him to correct his actions.

Stories with morals for kids

Telling stories is one of the best ways to instill values in your child. This is because children love listening to stories and are deeply inspired by the traits exhibited by the characters in the stories. It is easier for you to guide them in differentiating the right from the wrong, demonstrate various virtues and convey good moral values.

Here is a collection of short moral stories for kids in English which you can narrate to your child:

Short Moral Stories For Kids In English

Fun activities to teach values to kids

Why not engage your child in some interesting activities to help her practise the values that she has learnt and develop traits that will help her become a virtuous and responsible citizen?

Here is a list of character-building activities that will help your child become responsible, respectful, grateful, charitable, caring and honest:

7 Activities To Teach Important Values To Your Child

Raising a moral child – moral intelligence tips

To help your child lead a life of integrity, it is important that parents provide the right moral environment for them to prosper. Imparting a clear sense of right and wrong, appreciating good behaviour, teaching effective problem-solving and conflict-resolution, and being a good role model for your child are some ways to do it.

Also read:

12 Tips to Build Your Child’s Moral Intelligence

‘To educate a man in mind and not in morals is a menace to society,’ said the former American President Theodore Roosevelt. As parents, let us pledge to educating our children on values, principles and ethics. And, let us begin early, even as they are at the threshold of formal education – the preschool stage. 

About the author:

Written by Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj, PhD (Eng & Edu) on 4 August 2017; updated on 6 January 2021

The author is an educationist, language specialist and writer. In a career spanning over two decades, she has taught from preschool to B-School and trained teachers, master trainers and software professionals. She is also a former member of curriculum and syllabus development committees (Govt of Tamil Nadu). Her passion for the written word matches her enthusiasm for entertaining little kids by breaking out into nursery rhymes.

Looking for fun ways to keep your preschooler engaged during the pandemic? Check out Little Learners at Home, a home learning programme specifically designed for 3 to 5 year olds by our team of experts.

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