AWRIGHT DEN: The fantastic four
CHILDREN NEED discipline and here are four foundational areas where that discipline is developed: values, rules, structure and boundaries.
Where values are absent, chaos and destruction are inevitable. Ghandi once said: “If wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost; if character is lost, everything is lost.” We spend all our lives developing character and since our values define our character, it means our character is a reflection of our values.
Values are to people what roots are to a tree – without them, neither can withstand the forces and trials of life. They are the lens by which we view the world and the principles that guide our decisions and lives. We desire people of good character and most of our closest friends share similar values to us.
Parents are the first source and living example of values a child sees, and the philosophy “do as I say and not as I do” is a bad place to start. Children learn by example and therefore it is important for parents to set the right example. Unfortunately, many destroy their children’s lives by the horrible examples they set. What values have you set for yourself, for your home, for your child? If a parent doesn’t determine, communicate and establish a value code for their children, someone else will.
Values are birthed out of one’s beliefs, so what or who you believe in is very important. As a child, my parents communicated to me the values that governed our family and throughout my life, those values became my default when it came to making decisions and interacting with others. It was only when I became a teenager I learnt that the values I lived by were birthed out of our Christian beliefs. My community, friends, schools and clubs all had their own value systems. However, the values my parents instilled in me had greater influence over me and I often thought about whether a decision would please or displease them.
Where rules are absent, chaos and destruction are inevitable. Rules are birthed out of values and are a support and protective structure to that system that helps build character. Every parent must establish rules in their home and also establish consequences for breaking those rules. Rules not only govern the home and establish order and discipline, but they also do the same for society. In society, if you break the rules or law, there will be consequences and children need to learn this at home first. As a teacher, I observed that those teachers who upheld the school rules and didn’t divert, were the most respected and loved staff members.
Everything humans do is based on structure and home is the first place this needs to be taught. There is a structure we follow when we wake up and get ready for work, while we are on our jobs, when we are at school, while cooking and also in construction. Children need structure and that structure should start from the time they wake up till the time they go back to sleep. A timetable for home is a good place to start and in it should have, for example, what days they watch TV, go outside, be on the computer, study, go to sleep and for how long.
Boundaries do two things: keep things in and keep things out. Children must have boundaries and it starts with parents setting the right example. Parents must set boundaries even for interaction with their children and also how they interact with others in front of their children, especially the opposite sex. There must be boundaries set for their children’s friends when they visit the home; how long they stay; parts of the house they can go and so on. Boundaries, as they relate to dress, relationships, social activities and communication, are very important.
As a youth leader and former teacher, I have observed that those young people and students who have values, rules, structure and boundaries as their daily bread tend to be very successful.
I leave you with this Chinese proverb: “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character; if there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation; when there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”
• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email: [email protected]