17 Values You Must Teach Your Children

There are many values that you should teach your children so that they grow up with the ability to make their own decisions and can function in their social environment.
17 Values You Must Teach Your Children
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 05 October, 2023

There are many values that you must teach your children so they become adults who are able to make their own decisions and function in their own social context. In this article, you can find out what are the most important values a child should learn.

Parents play a leading role in their children’s education. During the first years of a child’s life, the parents are responsible for teaching them right from wrong. Although children do continue learning for many years to come, it’s really important that parents teach their children good values.

These qualities are not only important to their behavioral development and also affect their self-esteem and ability to excel in social settings. Likewise, they’re virtues that last a lifetime and are part of each person’s personality.

However, remember that children learn best by example. Therefore, before attempting to teach them about responsibility, kindness, or any other value, it’s important that parents these values into practice on a daily basis.

It’s useless to try to make a child learn “a good lesson” if this behavior isn’t reflected in their family. Therefore, it’s not just about teaching them values, but actually putting them into practice. What are the values that you should teach your children?

1. Honesty

Honesty is a value that must be learned as of early childhood. It’s likely that, at some point, children choose to lie or cover up their actions to avoid getting punished. That’s exactly when you should teach them the importance of being honest so they can be deemed trustworthy.

2. Tolerance

In such a diverse world, tolerance is a really important value. It’s important that children understand and accept different opinions, cultures, races, and religions. Children should also understand that not everyone is the same for healthy human relationships.

3. Respect

One of the first values you must teach your children is respect. This virtue is essential for humans to be able to coexist as a community. It’s important that, during their first years of life, they learn not to raise their voices, respect their elders, and obey the house rules.

4. Responsibility

Teaching children this value involves making them understand that everything has positive and negative consequences and that everyone has to take responsibility for their actions. First of all, this value will help the child complete certain tasks and fulfill their responsibilities.

5. Kindness

Kindness is a quality that strengthens social relationships, as well as family ties. Therefore, children should learn to be kind to others, including on their “bad” days. They must understand that being in a bad mood is no excuse to stop treating people right.

6. Determination

Having determination is something that is not achieved overnight and requires a lot of learning. However, this is one of the values that you must teach your children so that they know how to make their own decisions, safely, trusting in themselves and their abilities, and to learn to persevere, when necessary, to achieve what they want.

7. Commitment

It is related to honoring our words, doing what we have said, being responsible and not breaking what we promised. Children must learn this value, both with themselves and the things that concern them, and with others.

Likewise, learning to commit to your schoolwork is something that will affect the way you approach your work life. Even with affection, since this value helps strengthen relationships, since there is a great relationship between commitment and stability in the couple.

8. Self-love

Good self-esteem will be decisive in many areas of your child’s life. Self-love is key to living without guilt and without the constant feeling of never being enough.

Therefore, the child must learn the value of accepting themselves and not allowing other people’s behavior that violates them. As evidenced by a study published in Edetania. Studies and socio-educational proposals (Spanish link), good self-esteem and a good self-concept contribute to health and psychological balance.

9. Cooperation

Teaching children about cooperation is teaching them to work as a team when necessary. That they learn to join forces to achieve common goals shows them that at some point they will need help; and that both knowing how to give and knowing how to receive help are a determining value for living in society and working for the general good.

10. Generosity

Generosity is the value that opposes selfishness. It has to do with giving without expecting to receive something in return, in a selfless way. Do good without looking to whom, as the proverb says.

Now, this does not mean only charity, nor only giving material things, since when we give part of our time to help another, we are also generous.

11. Solidarity

Solidarity, together with generosity and cooperation, constitute a triad of values by virtue of which we put the needs of others before our own. In a particular way, solidarity has to do with supporting those who need our help.

This applies even if they are people we don’t know. In this regard, in research (Spanish link) on the subject, it is noted that “solidarity transcends all borders: political, religious, territorial, cultural.”

12. Empathy

Developing empathy in children promotes their sensitivity. In other words: it is helping them put themselves in the other’s shoes by trying to feel what they feel. Although this virtue can develop spontaneously over time, sometimes it needs to be strengthened.

Empathy is essential for your social relationships.

13. Forgiveness

Learning to recognize mistakes, apologize and know how to forgive are essential qualities in the process of learning values in the child. At first, it is a little complex for them to understand it, since they go through a stage of egocentrism in which they do not know how to accept that they are wrong.

However, speaking to them with love and discussing the meaning of forgiveness will gradually make them understand how important it is for their lives. This way, in the future, you will avoid holding grudges or other negative feelings.

14. Humility

Humility is the opposite value to pride. Although it is important to have self-love, excess ego can make us despise others. Therefore, parents must instill in their children respect for others.

They should also let them know, without offending or humiliating, that we can all make mistakes and have defects, and it is necessary to recognize them. This does not make us better or worse, but simply human.

15. Gratitude

Although there should be no gradations in values, in the sense that some are not more important than others, that of gratitude occupies a central position. In this sense, by giving thanks we value things, for having them, and people, for being with us, as well as their actions.

Teaching them this value will make them learn to be more respectful, appreciate the presence of others in their lives, and be grateful for enjoying each of the gifts that life gives us every day.

16. Joy

Joy is a very important value since it is what allows us to approach each situation with the best spirit, maintaining a good mood despite the circumstance. Joy promotes positive and constructive attitudes, generating feelings of pleasure, hope and esteem, in ourselves and in others.

17. Temperance

Although it is not a word we use that often, temperance can be considered the basis of well-being. It is related to moderation and self-control, and this can apply to character or emotional reactions, habits and lifestyle in general.

How to teach values to your children?

It is important to remember that children learn primarily by example. There is no point in trying to teach a child a value if she does not see the same behavior reflected in the attitude of her parents. Therefore, it is not only about teaching each value, but also about loading it with practical meaning.

This is how you should not worry so much about knowing or letting them know the concept of honesty, responsibility, cooperation or temperance. Simply be honest, be responsible, collaborate with others and with your environment, moderate your actions. This way you will be transmitting the message to them in the best way.

Now that you know how to instill them and what are the most important values that you should teach your children, we hope that this task will be more rewarding and easier for you to carry out. What are you waiting for to get to work?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.