Instilling Values in Your Child: Teach by Doing

Written by dad - One Comment

I recently wrote about how my wife and I handled finding a wallet stuffed with $1,100 in cash and no identification.

(In short, we did the right thing, but click through if you want the full story.)

In a related story, our oldest son (who just turned ten, but was probably about six at the time) found a $10 bill laying in the aisle at our local grocery store. Needless to say, he was thrilled. My lovely and talented wife, however, sensed a “teachable moment,” and explained to him that it wasn’t our money in the first place.

She then went on to tell him that we needed to try to find the rightful owner. In this case, since it was only ten bucks, there was little risk in turning it over to a complete stranger at the service desk.

The kindly older customer service rep listened intently as we explained to he what had transpired. She then took the money and put it in an envelope. On the outside of the envelope, she wrote a quick description of where it had been found, and she also recorded our son’s name and the date. She then explained to him that if nobody came back to claim it in a week’s time, he could have the money.

To make a long story short, he waited patiently all week, and was thrilled to discover that the money was still there waiting for him when we went back to the store. Talk about a win-win. He learned a valuable lesson about the importance of honesty and still got to keep the treasure.

The reason I wanted to share this story is that it’s a perfect example of teaching by doing. Life’s lessons are best learned first hand. You can preach at a kid until you’re blue in the face, but it won’t have nearly the impact of showing them the right way to behave.

“Do as I say, not as I do” is not an effective way to instill values in your child.

[Photo Credit: amycgx]

Published on October 4th, 2007 - One Comment
Filed under: Daily Life
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