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Develop a Child’s Values to Ensure Their Success

by Joe Lawrence | October 27th, 2015 | Behavior, Preschool
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preschool girl (400x400)As parents we are constantly trying to discover what the next big thing is. We want our children to be set up for success and to become productive members of society. When it comes to this, our preschoolers and us can learn a lot from the military.

I have been in the U.S. Air Force for over 17 years and there have been many changes. I have read numerous studies done by very smart people trying to predict the changes that future military leaders will face in the next 20 years and how we can develop them to have those skills we think they will need. Businesses do the same thing trying to predict market demand and many parents do the same thing too. We want to get our kids into the best schools that can leverage technology or teach language or whatever else we think will help them to be successful.

This is a great thing to do; however, we can never be certain of what the future holds. The military never predicted the changes that would occur after 9/11 and there is no certainty of what is next. What the military does very well is drill our core values into the heads and hearts of our members. We can and should do the same for our children because no matter what the future unfolds, our core values never change.

I try to take the same approach with my kids. There are certain values my wife and I find important and we teach them that and reinforce them. We value honesty, gratitude and respect. No matter what the future holds these three things will always help them be successful. If they choose to be a doctor or garbage man, these qualities will help them find success in their career and at home.

You may choose different values for your family, but the process is still the same. You need to model the behavior that exemplifies these values, let your child experience situations that afford the opportunities to practice them, and reward the behavior you want to see repeated.

For example, honesty. When I make a mistake, I ensure I come clean to it. I knocked over a Lego castle my daughter built while I was doing something in her room. I sought her out, told her what I did and apologized. Then I asked if I could help rebuild it. A few weeks later, she put a hole in the screen on our porch. I wanted to be angry because that is not fun to fix, but she came clean to me. I explained how much work it was and how she could have avoided it, but I made a very big deal about how proud I was of her for being forthright.

If we are going to set our kids up for future success, it is impossible to predict the skills they will need 15-20 years. A better method is to chase values not skills.

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