Teaching kids about Personal Standards may be one of the most important skills we can offer to them. It is so important that they have a solid idea of where they stand with a myriad of events that they can become a part of without even realizing how quickly situations arise. The friend who approaches your child just as they are headed to class and says, let’s skip this next class. In a moment of weakness, and not wanting to disappoint their friend, they accept. Now they have truancy to explain to parents, missed homework and assignments, and at times, a situation like this can unfold into something involving the legal system. It happens fast and without some personal standards from which to operate, kids can make the wrong choice, just like ourselves.
Take some time today to speak with your kids about the personal standards of your family. What really counts? What is important? How do you want them to protect your family name? Talk with them about non-negotiables in terms of behaviors. Get them to agree and add some of their own. It might be as simple as Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Respectful. A personal standard that I adopted in my teen years was to Always Be My Best in everything that I did. I didn’t always measure up to that, but the saying was in the back of my mind and still is today. It helped me to raise up to a higher level when confronted with distracting situations. You may choose, Integrity, Courage, Be a Leader, Be a good listener, Be a good communicator. Whatever you choose, spend some time discussing each one and come back and visit it frequently. I like to choose one for the week and have kids concentrate on practicing that one personal standard. In the evenings, when they get home, have a discussion about how it went. Ask questions like Did they have a chance to use it? What was the situation? How did it help you to make a good choice?
Here is an exercise on Personal Standards that will assist with this process.
Think of yourself as an adult reflecting on your adolescent years (eleven to nineteen). You remember many situations where you had to exercise your unwavering commitment to yourself and your family.
- How will it feel to know you made good decisions when you could have easily chosen otherwise?
- What strengths did you draw upon for those decisions?
There are two important points to be made here. The first is to decide up front on behaviors you will not compromise on. In other words, don’t get yourself into difficult situations in the first place. The second important point is to recognize that once you are in difficult situations, have a plan already in place–an agreement if you will–about how to get out of them quickly.
Yours for better parenting,