1. Assign the parents to brainstorm a list of family values (e.g., compassion, kindness, honesty, truthfulness, tolerance) with their children and post for easy reference; ask them to refer to the list when disciplining questionable behavior.
2. Advise the parents to choose a family value to discuss as a regular part of the weekly family meeting and give examples of how this value was demonstrated by family members during the previous week.
Regularly cite examples of behaviors that demonstrate integrity, trustworthiness, and moral courage in everyday life. (3, 4, 5)
Facilitate the children's age-appropriate conscience development by discussing behavior in terms of right and wrong or ethical and unethical. (6, 7)
4. Teach and model active listening. (8, 9)
3. Encourage the parents to use examples from the media, school, church, workplace, and community to engage their children in a discussion of behavior that does and does not reflect the values of integrity and moral courage.
4. Instruct the parents to read and discuss with their children stories that support their family values (e.g., A Call to Character by Greer and Kohl).
5. Council the parents to refer verbally to their own ethical actions (e.g., "I phone ahead if I'm going to be late; I let the car merge in front of us because she needed to turn left.") to set a positive example of character in daily life.
6. Advise the parents to emphasize the importance and long-term benefits of making the moral choice when tempted to engage in unethical behavior and to cite examples involving lying, cheating, stealing, and causing harm.
7. Encourage the parents to model trustworthiness and accountability by keeping promises, fulfilling obligations and being on time, and to insist that the children do the same.
8. Advise the parents that listening and thoughtful conversation are the greatest gift they can give to their child and ask them to re-program their daily behavior so that listening to
5. Treat each child with respect and offer discipline and guidance when child-parent respect is not shown. (10, 11, 12)
each other and the children becomes a top priority.
9. Teach the parents to use the process of active listening (see Teaching Children Self-Discipline by Gordon); assign them to use this process with each other and with the children daily.
10. Encourage the parents to build regard and respect within the family by treating one another with love and compassion; explain that discipline administered in a loving yet firm manner will enhance rather than diminish the bond between parent and child.
11. Teach the parents the critical difference between responding to a child's poor behavior using anger, guilt, and shame and using compassionate, logical discipline; instruct them to respond firmly when a child behaves in a disrespectful manner by identifying the behavior (e.g., "That's disrespect!") and describing a more acceptable response (e.g., "Please explain your concern without using putdowns or profanity.").
12. Teach the parents to extinguish disrespectful statements by stating that they will only listen to messages delivered in a respectful language and tone of voice and then totally ignoring any further unacceptable statements made by the child.
6. Establish a zero tolerance policy for putdowns and teasing. (13, 14)
7. Assign chores and responsibilities to each family member. (15, 16)
8. Verbally affirm children for positive behavior that demonstrates the exercise of self-control and positive character development. (17, 18)
13. Instruct the parents to address teasing and putdowns by verbalizing a strong family value of kindness and personal dignity and implementing discipline strategies (e.g., time-out, apologizing, loss of a privilege, paying restitution to the harmed party) when respect is not shown.
14. Advise the parents to teach their children an assertive response to teasing and harassment using the bug-wish statement (e.g., "It bugs me when you take my toys. I wish you would stop.").
15. Instruct the parents to develop a family chore list (or assign the "Division of Family Labor" activity from the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).
16. Assign the parents to use chores and tasks to teach responsibility to each child using the four-step process described in Parenting with Love and Logic (Cline and Fay): (1) Give the child an age-appropriate task, (2) Hope that the child "blows it," (3) Let the resulting consequences and empathy do the teaching, and (4) Give the same task again.
17. Instruct the parents to continually watch for their child's behavior that emulates ethical and moral character and recognize it verbally.
9. Promote independence by allowing children to make decisions and live with the consequences. (19, 20, 21)
10. Explore issues of justice and fairness by discussing with the family examples from the media, community issues, and personal examples. (22, 23)
18. Assign the parents to frequently name a commendable behavior that has been demonstrated by the child and connect the behavior to the list of core family values (e.g., "That's punctuality. It's one of our family values.").
19. Teach the parents to use a problem-solving process to help their children become more independent and responsible problem solvers (e.g., listen with empathy; if invited, explore possible solutions together, choose a strategy, and meet later to discuss the outcome).
20. Instruct the parents to build their children's decision-making skills and sense of responsibility by offering them many choices in their daily lives (e.g., complete homework before or after dinner, join the hockey team or the football team).
21. Teach the parents the role that natural and logical consequences play in fostering independence and character development in their children (e.g., responsible decision making, problem ownership, self-reliant behavior).
22. Advise the parents to use examples from the news media or their personal experiences that reflect justice or injustice in our society and to hold discussions with the children eliciting their opinions.
Promote the principles of equality and personal uniqueness by administering love, attention, material resources, discipline and guidance in a caring and impartial manner. (24, 25)
Verbally affirm each person's unique contribution to the family and larger community. (26, 27)
23. Encourage the parents to invite their children to discuss moral dilemmas they have encountered or wondered about from their experiences at home, school, church, or in the neighborhood.
24. Instruct the parents to check their own behavior and relationships with their children to insure that each child is given adequate love, attention, material resources, and discipline and guidance.
25. Help the children and parents list their personal needs and wants and realize the extent to which they are met in the family (or assign the "Sharing the Family Resources" activity from the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).
26. Advise the parents to recognize each child for their unique contribution to the family and community (e.g., Jimmy is dependable and does many chores without being asked, Darnell listens with an empathetic ear) to help the children internalize their developing character assets.
27. Encourage the parents to celebrate the character accomplishments of each family member (e.g., attendance records, good sportsmanship certificates, citizenship awards) with a family outing or recognition at the weekly family meeting.
13. Enlist the help of the children in assisting family members with needed jobs and projects. (28, 29)
Separate the deed from the doer when disciplining by using empathy and compassion while focusing on the problem, not the person. (30, 31)
Teach social skills by describing expected behavior and practicing during meal times, family outings, and activities. (32, 33)
28. Ask each family member to list several personal jobs or obligations which would benefit from assistance from another family member (or assign the "Family Job Support Checklist" activity from the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).
29. Encourage the parents to promote consideration and helpfulness toward extended family members and friends by involving the children in activities that offer needed assistance and support (e.g., shoveling show, cooking a meal, running errands).
30. Instruct the parents to discipline problem behavior without attacking the character of the child by focusing upon and dealing with the problem rationally while assuring the child of being a loved and cared for member of the family.
31. Advise the parents that empathy and compassion when combined with a logical consequence (e.g., "You spilled the milk, that's too bad. Please get a cloth and clean it up.") is significantly more powerful and effective than anger combined with punishment (e.g., "You spilled the milk. What a mess!").
32. Instruct the parents to create a list of manners and social behaviors they want their children to acquire and to teach and correct the behavior during family activities.
16. Volunteer for an outreach project at school, church, or in the community. (34, 35)
17. Participate in the development of family rules and relate them to laws and customs in the larger society. (36, 37)
33. Advise the parents to keep their expectations for their children's social and character development realistic and age-appropriate and to offer support and encouragement when progress is being made and providing loving guidance when necessary.
34. Assign the parents to select a church, family, or school project to participate in with their children to demonstrate and experience the value of giving back to the community.
35. Counsel the parents to insist that the children volunteer for outreach projects at school or church and ask them to emphasize the personal benefits received from giving time and effort to others.
36. Instruct the parents to create a list of family rules with input from all family members (e.g., curfew, table manners, homework, dress code) using the process of brainstorming all regulations necessary for harmonious co-existence and consolidating the ideas into a few general limits.
37. Assign the parents to discuss the family rules with their children and to determine how they compare to religious, school, and community rules and consider why rules are necessary in an ethical and moral society.
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