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The four core values to teach every child

The four core values to teach every child

“It's okay to make mistakes. Don't be afraid of telling me the truth”. As a parent or teacher, having such conversations with children helps instil the value of honesty in their early years.

The value of values

Values strengthen a child's character and act as the inner voice of their conscience, guiding and allowing them to understand what is right or wrong. However, values are not things you can teach your child overnight. As their role models, we must demonstrate them by setting examples at the right moments. Introducing your children to the following core values is essential for their overall development.

The depth of honesty

Children choose not to tell the truth for many reasons. It could be due to fear, to seek attention, to impress others, or to mask anxiety. Regardless of the reason, we should take it in our stride and not ignore even the littlest lies. Ignoring these lies could turn this behaviour into a detrimental habit, which may prove challenging to correct. The best way to instil honesty in children is to help them understand why it’s best to be honest.

No effort and stress of remembering lies

Let your child know that people who lie tend to be on tenterhooks as they carry the burden of being caught. One lie may result in more lies to cover up a story - the need to remember a string of lies is an unpleasant and stressful experience. In contrast, being honest and truthful is far more desirable, stress-free, and enjoyable.

Foster fearlessness and courage

Inspire children to face the truth, however difficult it may be, rather than lying. Validate their emotions, help them build the courage to bear the consequences of their actions, and become a strong person everyone admires and aspires to be like.

Authenticity and trustworthiness

Emphasise that honesty helps earn trust from the people around them. Honest people are considered reliable, trustworthy and makes them sought after, leading to healthy, positive relationships as well as personal and career growth.

The importance of empathy

You can train and inculcate empathy in your child by facilitating or simulating scenarios they might face in the future. Encourage them to put themselves in the shoes of others to understand other people’s points of view and feelings. By nurturing empathy in children in their early years, you are giving them a head start to become great leaders tomorrow. How? The World Economic Forum lists empathy as the top leadership skill today!

Children often form friendships with those they deem to be on the same frequency. Encourage them to bond with others in their group by always being empathetic and thoughtful. Children can easily relate to empathy since most have experienced the joy of sharing toys and books, working together during group activities and playing team games.

The strength of perseverance

You would have observed perseverance in your children very early on in their childhood. The amount of effort they put in to stand up on their own despite wobbling and falling countless times, walking, running, climbing or cycling are examples of their unwavering perseverance. These tasks require prolonged periods of perseverance, that’s why paediatricians call them ‘growth milestones’!

While children embrace this value in a conducive and caring home environment, it may require more emphasis as they start shifting into classrooms. As competition sets in, dejection may cause young minds to get stressed and give up trying. All it takes then, is a caring nudge from you to put them back on the path of perseverance and make it a part of their lifelong pursuits.

The freedom of self-reliance

The value of self-reliance goes a long way in helping children eventually stand on their own feet. You may find it challenging to instil this in your child, since they require dependence on their family while growing up. Nevertheless, you can gently help them in their journey towards self-reliance by giving them responsibility and accountability for small tasks.

These tasks could gradually increase in the level of responsibility needed, such as starting off by tidying up their rooms, helping around the house with chores, crossing the road on their own, or letting them decide how they wish to spend their allowance. Over time, you will see them evaluating choices, seeking suggestions, making wise decisions, and showing signs of self-reliance.


Honesty, empathy, perseverance and self-reliance are core values that build the character of not just children but of families, teams, communities, and nations. Your contribution as a parent or educator in nurturing these core values in children is, therefore, invaluable.

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