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How Parents and Kids Discuss Morals and Values + Video

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Stories with morals and values reflect real life. Years ago when I taught 3rd grade, a girl I'll call Thelma took her classmates' school supplies, candy, and toys and hid them in her desk. Child after child came to me saying, "Someone stole my…" I thought they just misplaced their things until the classroom candy can was emptied almost as soon as I filled it. Candy was a great motivator for good behavior and for hard work in those days.

One day items began tumbling out of Thelma's desk. Nearby kids shouted, "There's my eraser." "Where did Thelma get all that candy?" "You took my toy car!" Thelma shouted back, "No I didn't!"

Of course, I called her mother. Once I found out what was going on at home, I knew how to work with Thelma. At recess each day Thelma and I walked around the playground. We chatted about everything. It took a long while before her classmates trusted her enough to ask her to play.

Below, you'll find a video which includes the 5 goal questions to ask. It highlights my book of problem stories, Character Building on Back Talk Street. I wrote it for parents to discuss values with their kids.

5 Character Building Goals and Questions for Great Discussions with Kids

1. Empathy

As parents you'll want your children to be aware of and care about others' feelings. In Thelma's story we could ask, "How did Winnie feel when she found out Thelma took her video?" You'll want your kids to think about Winnie's feelings. One way is to think how they would feel if they were Winnie.

2. Role-Taking

Role-Taking also teaches empathy because it helps children put themselves in others' shoes. In Thelma's story we could ask, "Why do you think Thelma took other kids' toys?" They might say, "Because she wanted them."

You could add a broader view. Sometimes kids take things because they have a hole in their heart and think things will fill it up and make them happy. Of course, they don't think that clearly about their behavior. And it doesn't make stealing right either.

3. Social Awareness

This goal helps youngsters become aware of other's thoughts, feelings, needs, likes, and dislikes. You might ask, "What do most children think about kids who take their things?"

4. Self-Reflection

This goal helps kids examine their own behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Ask, "Have you ever taken something that didn't belong to you? If so, how did you feel about taking it?"

Many kids have taken something without asking. Your hope is that your youngsters didn't feel good about it. If so, discuss why doing the wrong thing won't make them happy.

5. Internalizing Good Advice

Children like to give their opinions and advice. When they give good advice, it is hoped they'll internalize that advice when they need it. Ask," What advice would you give Thelma to help her change her behavior? Why?"

The five goals and questions can be used with any problem story. By stopping the story to ask the questions, you'll be helping your children to think about what's right and what's wrong. And when you do, you'll be building character.

Conclusion for Using Stories to Ask the 5 Goal Questions:

The 5 questions will help you raise children with empathy, role-taking, social awareness, self-reflection, and internalizing good advice. These are the key character traits for developing a healthy moral character. Use them with problem stories because it's the easy way to promote good values in kids.

Below is the link to a 3 minute video with Thelma: 5 Goal Questions: How Parents and Kids Discuss Values.

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Watch How Parents and Kids Discuss Values Enjoy meaningful discussions with your children.

Pick up Character Building on Back Talk Street Thelma is one of the characters to discuss.

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