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Making Right Choices

Making Right Choices
Posted on 10/07/2013

Children can often be delightful.  They also can sometimes be deceitful or unkind, bullies or victims.  Sometimes the difference can be in the lessons they learn, both at home and at school.  Here are some ways to help your children grow up to be respectful and kind, and to have the self-respect they need to make the right choices, both now and in the future.

Trade places.  TV shows and movies can be helpful in teaching children how to be more sensitive to others' feelings.  When you're watching a program together and a character behaves badly to another, pause the movie and ask:  "Did you notice how mean that character was?  How do you think that made the other person feel?  What would you do in that situation?"  Talk it through together and stress the importance of treating people with respect.

Face the mirror.  Too many children are skilled at the art of being angels when their parents or other adults are around and little devils when they are not.  One of the most powerful and important lessons you can teach your child is this:  The real you is the way you behave when no on is watching.  Children need to learn to treat others kind and to behave well because that is the kind of person they want to be, and because that is the only way to have respect for the person they see in the mirror.

Read up.  From the time you began reading to your child in the womb until they are old enough to read for themselves, look for books that quietly impart messages about self-discipline, kindness to others, dealing with peer pressure, and telling the truth.  Talk about the stories you and your children read and the character traits brought out in the book.  Share your family values about how maintain your good character and make right choices.

Truth or consequences.  Every child, at one point or another, will try to lie.  Discuss with your children that trust is one of the most important characteristics a person can ever have, and that it is very hard to re-earn that trust if people think of them as a liar.  Ask them how they would feel if they found out someone had lied to them.  As a parent, show in your words and deeds that you are a trustworthy and honest person as well.

No excuses.  Sometimes, parents are unaware that their children are misbehaving in school until they're notified by a teacher.  The problem is that parents too often react with denial.  But that doesn't help anyone, particularly not the child, who learns that he or she can get away with bad behavior at school as long as the parents are fooled.  If you get that call or note from the teacher, swallow your pride, talk to your child, and make an appointment to meet wit h the teacher.

Stand strong.  It is difficult for children to deal with situations in which their classmates, neighbors, siblings, or friends are behaving in a bad or cruel manner.  Help them be prepared by role -playing ahead of time- act out situations they might face and see how they'd react.  Talk with them about other ways to deal wit h the peer pressure, and let them know that, while standing up to their friends or peers might temporarily make them less popular with that group, in the long run they will have earned the respect of those whose opinions matter more.

The golden rule.  Teach your children to treat others the way that they, themselves, would like to be treated.  Reinforce it at home, by treating your children wit h respect and expecting to be treated respectfully in return.  Reinforce it through your church, synagogue, or temple, or through involvement in community activities that work to help others.  And, most importantly, show your children you truly believe it by behaving respectfully yourself.