In my “Intentional Parenting” seminar, I invite parents to reflect on what particular values and practices they want their family to live by. Which values will they choose to be intentional about teaching, about modeling, about living with their children? Do their activities reflect these priorities? Does their family’s schedule reflect these priorities? Then, I encourage parents to LABEL these values often with their children, beginning with the phrase, “In our family…”, which helps to give the child a sense of belonging, family identity and pride that will grow with him and be with him forever. And as with all learning, REPETITION is key. The more you find and make the opportunities to repeat these phrases, the stronger these neural pathway will be in their brain, and the less likely their brain is to “prune” it away. You and your children will begin to hear these phrases in your mind, and they will guide your actions. One of my favorite examples of this…one busy morning, I had just finished teaching several music classes, and was closing up shop at this particular Kindermusik location in a church, rushing to get home to my own kids, and on with my daily to-do list. As I was headed to my car, I realized that I’d forgotten to turn off the bathroom light, and my mind told me “In our family, we take care of the earth“, so I rolled my eyes, and went back to flip the switch.
Here are some other examples to use during Good Deeds Week and beyond:
- “In our family, we help our neighbors.”
- “In our family, we care for others.”
- “In our family, we give back.”
- “In our family, we volunteer!”
- “In our family, we share with others.”
Of course, these are good phrases to say to your children and to yourself when you catch yourself not living by these values, but they have an even stronger impact when you use them in a positive way. “I see Ellie giving her friend a hug to cheer him up. In our family, we care for others.”….”Michael James, how kind of you to make cookies for your teacher. In our family, we share with others.” …. “You really spread some joy and smiles by using your gift of music at the nursing home today. In our family, we volunteer.” Sounds cheesy, right? Get over it. YOU have the privilege and responsibility of shaping this little brain and this little life.