How To Instill A Strong Sense Of Morality In Your Child
It is possible to agree that many parents hope that their children do them proud in school and in the Singaporean context as the need to do well academically has been a priority. Will this influence our parenting priorities? In a world increasingly inundated with issues on mental wellness, having the right moral compass has become more important than ever. Let me, Carean Oh, Writers Studio, an educational consultant share four helpful parenting tips to work your way towards developing a stronger sense of moral awareness in your child.
Tip 1: Lead by example.
Having taught children for many years, I am familiar with how easily they emulate their parents. We might believe that they are influenced by their peers or teachers but in the first six years of their childhood, before full-fledged primary school sets in, parents are their main influence of everything it takes to start their life journey. The way they speak, respond or escape from fear – all these behaviours are a mirror of their parents. It is an absolute singularity to follow, because we, parents, are the source of solace, justice, authority and beacon in the family. And the family is the entire world for a kid. The sphere you draw with a defining line as ‘right’, becomes their boundary.
Be conscious of our own actions, and demonstrate the values we want to see in our children, such as kindness, honesty, and gratitude, amongst others. We can do so in our interactions with our other half, friends, family members, and those around us. This does not just apply to Singaporean parents, but this message goes to all parents out there.
It is also useful to share our own personal experiences with our children, being candid and truthful about the mistakes we made when we were younger so that our children can benefit from the lessons and avoid making the same mistakes themselves.
“We might believe that they are influenced by their peers or teachers but in the first six years of their childhood, before full-fledged primary school sets in, parents are their main influence of everything it takes to start their life journey.”
~Carean Oh, Writers Studio, professional educator
Tip 2: Provide unconditional love and support.
We do not want to risk having our children grow up in a punitive culture where mistakes are frowned upon. It is only natural that young kids make mistakes, be it accidentally breaking things or getting into trouble in school. Provide constant unconditional love and support, resisting the urge to step in and ‘fix’ children’s mistakes or scold them harshly. This requires us to train our empathy, as well as learn to walk in our children’s shoes. As Singaporean parents, we yearn to break the cycle of having it the Asian way – where the main form of deterrence is a penalty for our kids. There is more than one way to educate our children and the basis is love.
We should also strive to be constantly involved in our children’s lives, be it taking note of the social media they imbibe daily or the friends they want to spend time with (and whom we may not agree with as protective parents). As they grow older, it is also important to engage them about their personal values, such as showing compassion to the less fortunate. Sometimes, the lesson lies in mistakes. It fortifies our children as they learn and rise, than be shielded within the steel bubble we create.
Tip 3: Show authority when the need arises – and only when it does.
Instill a sense of responsibility in our children here in Singapore. Even as we shower kindness and forgiveness on our children for their mistakes, we should strive to adopt an authoritative style of raising them- when the need calls for. Just today, I witnessed a boy reproaching his father loudly in a restaurant that I was dining in. He chanted incessantly, “You are a bad father.” He threw napkins at his father, spilled a drink on the table to get his attention. His father was meek and continued looking at his wife without a word. Both parents ignored the boy and continued waiting patiently for the waiter to take their order. What message were they giving their son? Does this mean that he could display disrespect to his parents and were they accepting it? When the need arises, set firm and clear boundaries to children’s behaviour, be it imposing curfew hours on time spent using their smartphones.
What sets the authoritative parenting style apart is its focus on being responsive to children even amidst high expectations, along with frequent communication with children on their mistakes while taking into account their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Research has shown that this approach has been proven to result in independent, confident, intelligent, and successful children, who have a strong sense of morality to benefit others.
Tip 4: Use intrinsic rewards instead of extrinsic rewards.
A final tip for Singaporean parents is to give both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to nurture desirable values in our children. These motivation types are already commonly used in helping children learn tangible skills, such as reading, learning a new sport, or improving on their studies.
Extrinsic motivation is more effective for younger children, such as rewarding them with sweet treats or gifts for demonstrating patience and self-control, in the case of queuing outdoors or sharing toys with their siblings. As our children grow older, parents should switch to intrinsic motivation to let children take charge of their own growth and development, allow them to measure their own progress, take ownership, and be proud of their progress.
I hope these tips are useful. Carean Oh, Writers Studio and her dedicated team of teachers at Writers Studio are beyond prepared to help develop your child’s morality.