Before having kids, we look forward to all the lessons we will teach our children and the values we will instil in them. But once we have children, our days feel shorter and time goes by faster than we imagined. We don’t have the time to teach them everything.
However, there are parents out there who manage to raise healthy and happy children despite the time constraints – by focusing on the values that matter most.
We asked two groups of successful parents a question:
Group 1: “If you could only teach your kids 3 values, what would they be?”
Group 2: “What is the single most important value to teach children?”
Let me tell you this, the insights we received from these 76 successful parents were nothing short of AMAZING. I’ve listed them all below for you.
But first, since we had a combination of united and diverse responses, we’ve created some graphics to give you an overall sense of the insights.
(Please note: similar responses such as ‘kindness’ and ‘compassion’ were combined when they held close meanings.)
1. Kindness & Empathy (26%)
2. Integrity & Honesty (17%)
3. Hard Work & Perseverance (16%)
4. Love For Self, Family & Others (8%)
5. Respect (8%)
6. Gratitude (5%)
7. Courage (4%)
8. Curiosity (4%)
9. Faith (4%)
10. True To Self (3%)
11. Appreciate Money’s Value (3%)
12. Choosing Words Carefully (1%)
13. Humility (1%)
Keep reading to see exactly what Mums and Dads chose as the most important values.
Here are the specific insights for: “If you could only teach your kids 3 values, what would they be?“…
- They are Kind
- Hard Workers
- Kindness & Empathy
Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh
- Be kind – to everyone, including yourself
- Always be yourself – there’s no better version of you
- Work smart – much cleverer than simply working hard!
- Kindness & Empathy
- Integrity & Honesty
- Hard Work & Perseverance
- Compassion/ kindness
- Hard Work
Connect with Emily via site https://ritely.com/.
- Choose your words carefully.
- Be kind to everyone.
- Work hard, but leave time to play with your kids.
- Respect for yourself and for others.
- Be true to yourself and have the confidence to be open to new experiences.
- Be a good friend. Look out for your friends and treat them well.
- Good people
- Work hard
- Live life with purpose
- Work hard
- Love yourself and others
As a mother of five special needs children, I teach them a lot of different values based on their needs. But, the three most important ones are faith, love yourself and others, and respect.
Our Catholic faith is the center of our family. God comes first. My children learned at an early age how to pray, the importance of going to mass every Sunday and on holy days and to serve others.
Due to their special needs my children struggle with self esteem and bullying. They know that they must love themselves no matter what others say. Every child is a child of God and uniquely made. Love yourself and show that same love to your neighbor, just like Jesus did. Love your enemies and forgive your enemies.
Listening and following directions is very difficult for my children. Teaching them how to respect authority, parents, teachers, and other adults helps with following directions and obeying the rules.
- Courage, to stand up for oneself/others and to say “yes” to adventures.
- Curiosity, to question why things are and to discover one’s passions.
- Gentleness, towards oneself, towards others, and towards one’s surroundings.
Character education is very important to me, and I enjoy teaching a variety of values. As homeschoolers, our unit studies were based on Montessori principles and character values. I guess my three top values would be kindness, honesty, and determination. My children are now adults, and I’m very proud that those values continue to be an important part of their lives.
Connect with Deb via her site http://livingmontessorinow.com/.
- Strong moral inner compass
1) Strong moral inner compass, clear understanding of wrong and right,
what is fair and how to have strong inner core in order to say “no” even
when pressured and “yes” even when it’s not a popular decision; be
motivated by compassion and desire to help others.
2) Boldness to take on challenge and always choose adventure; look for
roads less traveled, have passion for new discoveries and learn to work
hard in order to achieve desired goal.
3) Be authentic in every circumstance and be the master of their own life,
never blame anyone for anything; look for motivation from within without
trying to impress anyone. Never covet anything that belongs to others. Be
original self – pursue your own idea of perfect look, desires, career,
gifts, possessions, achievements.
- Respect and courtesy
I highly regard good manners (respect and courtesy) – I think they get you far in life.
Perseverance – in our day and age of fast and furious, I think good old fashioned perseverance (not giving up in the face of adversity) is essential.
Responsibility – taking responsibility for and ownership of our actions – not blaming others.
Of course I believe in honesty, forgiveness, compassion etc too! :):):)
Connect with Georgia on Instagram.
- Good work ethic
Seph Fontane Pennock
- How to share
- A can-do attitude
- Acceptance of others
- Hard work
- Hard work
Kindness, integrity and hard working are the values I’ve instilled in my sons! I prefer integrity because it encompasses honesty but also high moral values.
- Be true to yourself.
- Treat people/animals like you would want to be treated.
- It’s OK to say no, as well as yes, to something or someone.
- Work ethic
- Be kind
Connect with Tim via http://minimatisse.blogspot.com.au/.
- Loving God and Others.
- Showing Compassion and empathy.
- Honesty / Integrity (doing the right thing even when no one is looking).
- Think before you act
Honesty – telling the truth is the only way to go. Lying is a habit that is hard to shake. If you always tell the truth there are no regrets, nothing to undo. Truth always wins out.
Faith – trust God and build your life on His word.
Think before you act.- Taking an extra few minutes or even days to think through important decisions pays off. Rash decisions can lead to disaster.
Connect with Alyssa via her site http://4thgraderacers.blogspot.com.au/.
- Hard work
- Be giving
- Self worth
1. Kindness – I think a kind life is a satisfying and useful life, so the value of kindness is top of my list.
2. Self-Awareness – to always be honest with yourself and your place in the world is a very important thing to learn and nourish. It is only through self-awareness that we can truly learn our purpose.
3. Humour – there are plenty of values that some may say are more important than humour, but I value it highly and hope my children do too. Humour (especially the ability to laugh at oneself) makes for a happy life and it spreads that happiness wherever it goes.
- Be Considerate
- Be Hones
- Be Determined
Be Considerate – Make sure your children see consideration and kindness in you and pass that along to their children. Words and actions can crush or build up a person. We always want to build.
Be Honest – Trust is the hardest thing to regain when lost. Never give anyone a reason not to trust you.
Be Determined – Develop determination by teaching children that thing don’t come easy, but staying the course for what you really want and for who you want to be will always be worth it.
Here are the specific insights for: “What is the single most important value to teach children?“…
The single most important value to teach my kids is love. If we love each other we do not lie, we help each other, we want what’s best for each other. In that regard if I can teach them unconditional love, I have taught them more than one value. All values lead back to love.
The main value that I strove to teach my students and my own daughter was integrity. Why integrity? Because integrity covers a lot of others. Merriam-Webster’s first definition is “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility.” Integrity is the umbrella value as as a “firm adherence to a code” is broad enough to allow each individual to figure out what is important to her. Integrity asks an individual to identify and prioritize values and then strive to live by them. For one person honor might be the highest; for another, kindness might rank first. The key is that either way the person is living deliberately and thoughtfully.
Mine would be Resilience. With that value embedded in their being anything is possible in life and it is really missing in our young people today.
Natalie Dwyer – West
My Top Value would be LOVE – The ability to teach your kids to love themselves internal as they will then never seek external validation of love from others to fill emotional voids. However to teach your child love you also need to have love as a high value yourself.
- Self love and care
I have been running the value exercise in my parenting workshops for 30 years. It is a wonderful way for them realize they are not paying that much attention to this value in their daily interactions with their children.
My personal answer is “Self love and care.” It is the most important value I would love to give my kids.
I’m a Melbourne mum of 2 girls and if I could teach my kids one value it would be kindness. Everything stems from kindness and compassion.
Jenny Leyva de Loryn
- Respect for self, others, the community and the environment.
Respect for self, others, the community and the environment.
They respect themselves to shy away from temptations, they respect others opinions etc so are well considered and valued by their peers. Respect for the community and the environment goes hand in hand as this will give everyone a better quality of life in the long run.
Connect with Jenny on Facebook.
- Compassion for ALL living beings.
Connect with Carol via her site https://www.farmanimalrescue.org.au/.
If I had to teach my children one thing, it would be kindness. Because we must care for others; the planet; ourselves; and everything we interact with and touch if we are kind.
We are called, “humankind,” though in a digital world where we quickly become a number, an algorithm, kindness soon vanishes.
How can our children do wrong, when they are intentionally and consciously kind?
I have worked with women and young people for many years and to the quetsion what is the most imporant thing you can teach a person before they turn 18 my response is: compassion. Without compassion a person cannot relate to others in a level below the surface, has very limited relationships with others and a limited perception of the world they live in. Through practising compassion for yourself and others you build better relationships. Self-acceptance comes through compassion instead of judgement. With self-acceptance you will learn who you truly are!
Without courage it is impossible to authentically practise and other value (honesty, love, compassion, empathy etc)
Children and adults alike, whether they are conscious of it or not, all have a yearning to be understood…
newtons 3rd law of physics (MOTION) – says “for every cause there is an effect” and Vica-versa…
It takes courage to be understood, but it takes more courage to understand….. to be understood we must first UNDERSTAND(ourselves, and others).
- Not to live beyond their means.
The single most important value is not to live beyond their means.
This may seem a pragmatic and not feely-touchy response. However the reality is that the consequences of not learning this impacts on all those ‘touchy-feely values we want our kids to have .
If you live beyond your means the consequences include to cope with financial problems:-
– thinking of yourself before others to get out of problems
– Inability to enjoy simple pleasures
– family breakdown
– cant give to others in need
– can’t plan for the future
So learning to manage your finances is a gift that leads to so many important values – including honesty, generosity, caring …
Tolerance. That is what I wish to show my 3 young sons. I am doing that a few ways most notably we are travelling around Asia on an open-ended ‘gap year’!
I am the blogger behind “Family Bites Travel”.
So, who are we? I am Alana, 34, mum to 3 sons (8, 3, 1) and I am on a quest to search for my global ‘village’. My husband is required to remain in Australia but will FIFO (Fly-in fly-out) when possible. We are a young family under unique circumstance trying to minimise the stresses of modern life.
We slow travel and ensure we meet the local people and experience their culture. We have met so many amazing people that are more like family to us now.
Kindness. My kids and neices and nephews have learned common courtesy and kindness gets you a long way in life and makes a difference.
- Independent thought
Connect with Shah via her site https://lilspaces.com/.
- Grit when facing adversity.
Having worked with college athletes for years, I believe it’s grit when facing adversity. They need to learn how to see small successes and try to get 1% better every day even when they have had a setback. They say the most successful entrepreneurs have 4-8 major setbacks before they “make it”. We need to teach this generation how to deal with adversity to help them grow. Unfortunately, we have been evolving into a situation where sports is now a “everyone gets a trophy” no ma tter if they were last place in the league or first…this will not teach our kids grit to overcome adversity!
Connect with Renee via her site http://www.rlopezcoaching.com/.
I believe the most important value to teach children is gratitude. It is a daily struggle in my house so it is something I focus on quite a bit with my three boys. Having an attitude of gratitude will have a positive impact on children’s lives in the present and in the future. When children are taught the value of gratitude, they will grow up to be adults who are appreciative, well mannered, understand the concept of giving back and realize how blessed they are, even for the littlest things. When they become parents, they will then pass along the value of gratitude to their children.
It would have to be “RESPECT” or as my parents taught us “treat people how you would like to be treated”.
Connect with Jay via http://mychildmyfamily.com.au.
I have often been asked about the type of life I would like for my children. Often when asked this questions parents will respond, ‘oh, I just want them to be happy’. But happiness alone is not all I want for my children.
The number one attribute I hope they develop is Resilience. The ability to bounce back from life’s challenges and triumphs, dust off their shoulders and keep going.
Resilience is the attribute I hope my children develop the most.
- Humility is the one value I hope to raise my kids to embody.
I’m an academic organizational specialist with a private practice in Wellesley, MA, and I have worked with hundreds of students; I’m also the mother of my three adult ‘children’. The most important quality a parent can teach a child is kindness. With that one special quality all of the others fall into place. It’s easy to teach through positive reinforcement, modeling the behavior oneself gently acknowledging those who show kindness, and in turn occasionally quietly pointing out when others lack this quality.
- Know how to work proactively hard with a vision
The two traits I think are most valuable are as follows:
Know how to work proactively hard with a vision. Many people today do not know how to actually work, much less work hard. Then to have visions on how to accomplish a task in the most time efficient method possible and do the job right the first time is rare.
ETHOS: My kids must learn personal responsibility and how their Ethos (core values) are intertwined throughout every area of their future life.
If I could teach my kid only one value, it would be curiosity.
Curiosity drives dialogue, problem-solving, and learning. Curiosity about others helps us to connect more and judge less. Curiosity promotes discovery, and also caution (because we can be curious about the consequences of our actions and think through our decisions).
In a word, law. I want my children (please note I am a mother of two young kids, both boy and girl) to know the law, and thus, be better conscious human beings.
As a lawyer, lead Montessori adolescent educator and author of the children’s law book Plessy, a shoemaker made up his mind, I have worked with children for over a decade. Now as executive director of Legal Kid, I spend my time empowering kids to learn the law. We have an epidemic of bullying in this nation because (even though we are a nation of laws) laws are neglected in the classroom. When children enter elementary school, we, as educators, hold kids to high moral standards. But are we taking it far enough? Are we giving them the right tools to be conscious in society?
Legal Kid 2017 survey shows that 7 out of 10 kids do not believe laws apply to them. Couple that fact with social media giving kids access to each other 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, we are brewing a cocktail for cyber-bullying — which has increased annually by over 35% among adolescents facing possible legal penalties. Again, how can we say we are doing enough? As parents and educators, we have to make sure we are filling their tools boxes with the right skills to make them future successful adults. The landscape in technology and the world is changing. Teaching kids the law has to be part of the new path to success for our children as we look ahead. Let’s create conscious citizens — together!
There will always be ups and downs in life, and sometimes there will be A LOT of down. I want my children to keep trying, to not give up, to persevere and overcome. If they can’t conquer; to make their peace with their problems. I’ve seen so many people complaining that life is unfair, but hey, that’s life. There are so many good things that will happen to my kids but I know that they will need to persevere through the bad things too in order to really appreciate the good.
Dr. John DeGarmo
I am Dr. John DeGarmo, a biological, adoptive, foster parent to over 50 children. Indeed, I have had as many as 11 live in my house at one time. Currently, we have 8 children in the house. I am a leading expert in parenting and foster care, and director of The Foster Care Institute, and conduct seminars across the nation on and have worked with social workers across the world. I am also author of several books, including Keeping Foster Children Safe Online, and Helping Foster Children in School.
Make no mistake, children need to learn important values such as honesty, hard work, integrity, etc. Yet, perhaps what they need to learn the most is the value of self worth. They need to learn that they matter, they are important that they have VALUE! So many children have come through my own home, through the foster care system, believing that no one cares for them, they do not matter, and that they are not important. Thus, you can imagine a number of tremendous challenges await them in the future, including child sex trafficking, homeless, and even suicide.
The ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, walk the path they tread and see the world from their eyes might not come naturally to our kids. As parents we can teach them empathetic thinking until it becomes second nature. Until they see an elderly man shuffling slowly and pause to hold and guide them. Until they see a classmate struggling with bullying issues and befriend them against the tide. Until they see their parents collapse with fatigue and step up and do some chores without prodding.
When we teach our kids to understand before they judge, not only will they become better versions of themselves, but empathy will lead them to prosper in their future personal and professional lives as well.
- The value of money
I want my daughter to have above the rest is the value of money. Growing the value of money was something I had to learn by trail and error. I wasted a lot of money and missed out on a lot of investments because of my ignorance. My daughter just turned three and I’m teaching her how to save her money by putting half of the money she receives into her piggy bank and using the other halve on little items such as ice cream. She loves the fact of slipping money through the hole and watching it disappear. Right now she prefers coins instead of paper but eventually she’ll transition.
Santa J. Ono
As both a parent and President of University of British Columbia (and Immediate Past President of University of Cincinnati), the one value I’d hope all 18 year olds would embrace is Curiosity. With the tens of thousands of 18 year olds I have encountered in my role as college President, curiosity differentiates extraordinary students from ordinary students. It is also in my view the best predictor of future trajectory.
- Try hard but don’t worry about the end result.
By the time they turn 18 the ONE value I hope they take from me is to try hard but don’t worry about the end result. You tried your best, you can’t control success or failure that follows, only that you tried. reward yourself for attempt NOT the end result because that is beyond your control.
I learned that later in life and wish I would have learned it early. Would have saved me MUCH angst.
Curiosity, if I had to pick just one value, because it inspires questioning and is at the heart of the desire to learn new things.I’m the mother of 2 children, ages 6 and 2.
The one value that I think is important to instil in my children – And I have 8-
You are enough! You are worthy. You are valuable. You have a purpose.
How they perceive themselves affects not only their lives but the entire world because it colours how they see the world and how they attempt to make change within it.
Connect with Chrystal on Twitter.
Being a parent isn’t easy. From an outsiders perspective (before I had kids), I always said that “I would do ….”, but it doesn’t exactly turn out that way; you never quite know what you will do unless you are faced with the actual situation, and as a parent, you make it up everyday as you go along. Given that, the one value I hope I can instill in my daughter is to be courageous.
- Value family
I want them to value family. Their family of origin as well as their own family. I want them to not abandon family when times get tough. To stay in touch and love their aging parents through the seasons of life. I want them to realize the marriage is part of the family and you don’t leave your family. Marriage is not always bliss. There are rough spots. I want them to value the family unit enough to push through the storms. They always pass, no matter what.
Judy Woodward Bates
Faith. You can’t fake it. You can’t water it down. If you get that right, the rest comes easier.
Connect with Tamara on Twitter or visit her site https://www.empoweredsinglemoms.com/parenting-first-rule/.
- Don’t treat people the way you’d want to be treated, treat them the way THEY want to be treated.
These responses are AWESOME, right? A HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to this mammoth post! Please share if you think it was useful! And feel free to post the Word Heart or Pie Chart on your site, just leave a link back to this page so that everyone can read these amazing responses.
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If you could only teach your kids 3 values, what would they be? Leave your comments below :).