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Encouraging Conscientiousness in Our Children

13/02/2012 child care, Opinion

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Instilling Conscientiousness in kids

Instilling Conscientiousness in kids We all want our children to grow up with strong views of what is right and what is wrong and to be guided by their consciences. As parents, grandparents, nannies and caregivers, how do we go about encouraging conscientiousness in our children?

Firstly and most importantly, set a good example. Children absorb everything that their parents do. They way you relate to other people and conduct yourself is being keenly observed by your children, even when you think they are not watching. A child's behaviour is likely to mimic that of their parent's and caregiver's behaviour. To ensure that they are interpreting your actions as you would wish, speak with them often, in language that is appropriate for their age, and explain why you acted in the way that you did. For example: "I took the purse that I fount to the Police Station, because somebody is going to feel really bad about loosing that money. It just doesn't seem right to benefit from somebody else's misfortune. Hopefully they will go to the Police Station and be able to get it back and can you imagine how relieved they will feel?"

Speak frequently and openly about doing the right thing. When kids have to make difficult decisions, help them to reason through the various options. Often there is not a clear right or wrong, but if they have worked through the logic and consequences of some possible actions, they will at least have learnt something about choices and outcomes.

Help them to try to understand things from the point of view of others.  Things can get rough at school, if there isn't outright physical bullying there will be psychological bullying for sure. To help them deal with it, first acknowledge that any kind of bullying is wrong, then explore for a moment the world of the bully. Are they doing it to just to get attention? Are they growing up in an environment where bullying is the norm? Probably they are victims of bullying themselves and quite likely have low self-esteem, and so they bully others to make themselves feel important. You don't want to overdo any "sympathy for the devil", but helping your child understand the motives of the bully will help him or her deal with it more effectively.

Discuss recent news events regularly with your child and discuss any ethical issues which are involved. Ask your child what they think would be the correct behaviour if they were in similar circumstances described in the news story.

When there are the occasional lapses of conscientious behaviour in your children, don't go all-out on a scolding campaign. Instead wait for some calmness to develop in the situation and describe, as you understand it, how the events unfolded. Once your child agrees broadly with you what happened, explain how his or her behaviour was wrong, and what would have been a more appropriate response.

And most importantly, when you do notice an excellent conscientious response, whether mother, father, nanny or maid, praise them generously, give them a hug and tell them you are proud of them.