Raising Good Citizens
July is the month we celebrate our country, so it seems fitting to talk about how to instill values of patriotism and pride in your children. It’s not fireworks, flag-waving, and singing songs-it’s little things that show respect for the land we love and reveal the support we should have for one another.
Teach Your Children – Teach your kids to respect others-particularly others who are different. Our country was founded on the quest for freedom, so it’s important to acknowledge that our diverse melting pot makes us stronger. Seeking to understand and accept differences is a great foundation for our kids.
Respect Your Elders – This one is old school, but still relevant. Children should understand they should show respect for, and value the wisdom older people can impart to younger generations. In many cultures, elders are revered and honored for their life experiences in our culture as well.
Embrace History – Whenever possible, expose your children to the history of our country. Everything we’ve become as a country was set in place by historical events. Visit museums and locations of historical significance. Talk about the Star-Spangled Banner, the civil war, and the Declaration of Independence. Discuss the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements. To provide an assist, here is a list of books that you can read with your kiddos to teach them more about the history of our country. https://bit.ly/3mccrc9
Take the High Road – Make sure your children understand that being kind and not retaliating isn’t easy but is the best way to deal with a bully’s threats or other forms of confrontation. Verbal and physical pushback often accelerates a bad situation. Walking away is taking the high road.
Love the Land – Knowing the importance of keeping our environment clean and respecting the planet also shows a deep love for the country. Lead by example in this regard by recycling, cleaning up after camping picking up after a picnic. Litter and refuse tossed onto the ground or roadside isn’t patriotic, it’s punishable.
Talk Politics – It’s okay to encourage your children to follow the news and to understand that voting and caring about issues is important. Being proactive about what matters to you and ultimately your country is an important part of becoming a good citizen. The news can be hard to watch, but if you’re mindful of the sources and select an unbiased point of view to deliver information, you’re improving your child’s knowledge of their world and that’s never a bad thing.
Keep Current – Keep magazines and books that deal with current events in your home. Encourage your kids to look at them and read them if they are old enough to do so. Kids should be taught to think and not what to think. Let them explore and draw their own conclusions. The more you model being an informed citizen, the more your child will follow.
Be Law Abiding – Be sure that your children understand the importance of following the law and actively model that behavior for them. This one is easy because many laws are based on the core values you instill in your children. Your kiddos watch what you say and do. If you’re going the speed limit, talk about how going the speed limit makes everyone safe on the road and prevents accidents. Conversely, if you’re pulled over, be courteous and talk to your children afterward about how you didn’t follow the rules, but you will do better next time.
Vote as a Family! Allow your children to experience the political process. Vote on decisions you make as a family, so they understand that they have a say in matters by voting and that winning and losing are all a part of the democratic process.
Volunteer – Good citizens pitch in to help. Reaching out and lending a hand is another thing we do as a country. Start small with your kids at a local charity that could use assistance. Donate your time to help with a homeless shelter fundraising or food shelf. Don’t limit this kind of behavior to the holidays—activities like this take place all year round! Teach your children the importance of empathy, it is vital to pride in their country and in themselves.
Honor Traditions – A great way to instill civic and national pride in kids is to include them in your traditions. If your hometown hosts a 4th of July band concert, a parade, or picnic be sure to attend and allow your children to take part in those festivities-year after year, and always discuss why you’re attending the event. They’ll carry forward these traditions (and the reasons behind them) when they have families of their own.