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When parents encounter a problematic behavior with their child, they usually want a quick list of “how-to” so they can quickly fix the behavior. Sometimes those lists can be helpful, and I know my posts with those lists are some of the more popular posts on this blog.
Here comes the BUT.
BUT you can’t rely on these posts alone. Maybe these lists can help you see some initial improvement, BUT if you want to see some long-lasting improvement, you need to focus on true and basic morals. You need to understand them and teach them to your children. You don’t want to simply teach “don’t hit” and “share your toys” and “speak kindly” and “don’t pick the neighbor’s flowers”–you want to teach your child WHY all of these things are a good idea (and remember, teaching why typically is effective around age 3–before that you tend to stick to teaching how).
And why do you want to teach why? Because teaching why helps a child to be able to act correctly in the future. Not with perfection; no human acts perfectly all the time. Behavior will be much better, however, with an understanding of moral principles than without.
A quote I love is:
True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. –Boyd K. Packer
This is a very succinct way of putting it. In other words, studying what behaviorists, psychologists psychiatrists and so forth, have to say with your “how-to” lists on behavior with not improve behavior as simply studying the moral standards outlined in scripture. Most moral standards in scripture are accepted socially as high moral standards also (though, we know, this is declining. Not even all ten commandments are socially followed anymore).
On Becoming Childwise really focuses on teaching morals and this is why. Teaching morals changes behavior faster and more efficiently than memorizing a list of “if/thens.” It will also help you to be a more confident parent. This removes pressure of the “how”–because the how isn’t important. The why is important. So long as the how is effective in producing the why, it is great! So when you get the why, you can naturally and confidently institute the how of your choice.
Here are posts on morals:
- Behavior and the Heart
- The Conscience
- Childwise Principle Four: Instill Morality and Behavior Will Follow
- Evaluating and Teaching Context
- Finding/Teaching Positive Behavior
- Gratitude II
- Loving Others
- Memorizing Scriptures
- Moral Training: Actions Precede Understanding: : https://www.babywisemom.com/2010/05/moral-training-actions-precede.html
- Moral Training: Age 3
- Moral Training: Start Early:http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2009/02/moral-training-start-early.html
- Self-Control: A Foundational Virtue
- Staying on the Moral Path
- Teaching About Christ All Year
- Teaching Charity
- Teaching Gratitude
- Teach “Why”
- Tips for Teaching Morals
- What vs. How of Character Training