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    The Importance of Values within the Family Home

    What are ‘Family Values”?

    Your values are your moral and ethical principles. Values are often a guide for the decisions you make and how you choose to live your life. You most likely have a pretty good sense of what your individual values are. It can be a little more complex to try to define your family values, since there are more people to consider. However, with reflection and communication, you can find effective ways to define your family values for all the family.


    Consider common values. Make a list of all of the values that are important to you. This is a great way for all of your family members to think about values. Ask each family member who can write to make a list. Your family can then rank the values on each list to help you define which are the most important to all of you.
    ◦ Common values include: honesty, balance, caring, generosity, health, humour, learning, wisdom, leadership, and compassion.
    ◦ Think about your family as you consider values such as cooperation, financial stability, humility, and patience.
    ◦ Try thinking about the values in terms of categories. For example, your categories could include: Personality, Career, Family, Friends, Health. Try looking at the list of values and figuring out which category to put them in. This organisation can lead to clarity about what matters most to you.

    Ask questions. Once you have spent some time thinking about your personal values, it’s time to figure out how to integrate them with the rest of your family. In order to do that, you all need to effectively communicate with each other. Begin the process by asking questions.[3]
    ◦ Ask your family to join you for a discussion about values. Begin by asking open ended questions such as, “What is most important to our family?”
    ◦ You can also try, “What brings you happiness? How does that affect our family?”
    ◦ Other good questions to ask include, “What makes you most proud about our family?” or “What do you look forward to when you come home?”
    ◦ You could also try “What embarrasses you about our family?” and “What does our family provide for you that you don’t get from friends?”
    ◦ Consider having each family member answer these questions individually. Then you can openly and honestly compare answers.
    ◦ Encourage your family members to ask questions, too.

    Be a good listener. During your family discussion, it is important that you all practice good listening skills. To indicate that you are listening, ask follow up questions. For example, if your partner says he values honesty, ask him how that can become more of a focus for the family.
    ◦ You can also use non-verbal cues to indicate that you are listening. Nod your head when someone is speaking, and smile to indicate you appreciate what is being said.
    ◦ Try to limit interruptions. Ask everyone to put away their mobile phones and turn off the tv while you are having this important conversation.

    Solidify your family values. Once you have spent some time discussing your family values and enjoying quality time together, you can begin the process of more clearly defining your family values. Take some time to sit down together and make a list of the values that are most important. You can think of these values as firm guidelines that your family is agreeing to live by.
    ◦ Writing things down can help your family gain mental clarity about shared values.
    ◦ Try writing down items such as “charity society” or “religion/spirituality” or “honest communication with family members”.
    ◦ Try having each family member choose 3-4 values that they feel are most important. Combined, this will give you a manageable number of values to put on your permanent list.
    ◦ For example, you could choose “safety” as one of the primary values for your family. Each family member could then indicate how they will stick to this value. You could pledge to always drive the speed limit. Your daughter could promise to always wear a helmet when riding her bike.

    Make sure your children are involved. Treat defining your family values as a family decision. If your children are a little older, such as teenagers, make sure they feel like they are an important part of the process. Say things such as, “We value your input. How do you feel about including education as one of our primary family values?”
    ◦ You can also encourage your kids to explain their opinions. Try saying, “What do you like about this choice? Why do you think adding humour as a family value is the best option?”
    ◦ If your children are still pretty young, you can find other ways to get them involved. Try having them draw a picture of the things they love about your family.

    Write a mission statement. Once you have reflected on your values and discussed them with your family, you should have a good idea of how to define your family values. One way to solidify them is to write a mission statement. This is a document that indicates what your family values and can also include goals. The mission statement is a formal declaration of the values you share as a family.[7]
    ◦ Write down what the purpose of your family is and a strategy for making sure that you remain focused on that purpose.
    ◦ Try writing an introduction that states why your family is choosing these particular values. You can talk about how your family is committed to these values in order to help promote good life choices. The introduction doesn’t have to be long, just a paragraph will do.
    ◦ List the values. You can organise them by categories such as Health, Happiness, Balance, and Stability. Then, you can indicate your family strategy for sticking to each of these values. We will all make mistakes at times but it is understanding these mistakes and learning from them that matters.

    Once you install strong family values within your family, you are providing a very strong base structure for you all. It really helps kids to understand the importance of Values in life as when things go wrong, as they sometimes will – going back to values very often explains certain behaviours and reactions. I know this sounds like a lot of work but break it down, do what you feel is important to you as a family. Every family is unique and you know your own values. I cannot emphasise how important values are for you as parents and also for your kids, especially when technology plays such a big role in everyones lives.


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    I recently ran a Self-Development workshop with a Transition Year group and was surprised at their reactions.
    This workshop was aimed at helping the students to understand the importance of a number of topics;

    The importance of liking yourself – Positive Self-Esteem.
    The meaning of Friendship.
    Getting to know your Strengths and learning to understand what they mean.
    Thinking about Values and how they effect your every day life.
    The importance of Believing in Yourself and Setting Goals.
    The importance of having Dreams/Ambitions.

    During the workshop we had a lot of discussion about friendships and the importance of face to face communication. This is an area of concern, as when we looked at it most of the students said there was never a time they would be with friends when someone was not on their phone – never a time when they would all be talking together. This is a problem as people are not giving enough face to fact time to real friends and far too much online time to virtual friends (who may not be real friends at all). This was an eye-opener for many as we have to remember some of our kids know no different – this is the world they have grown up in. They began to realise the importance of spending real time with real friends.

    When it came to strengths, many of the students said this was not something they really thought about, but after the exercise they realised what great strengths they had, many of which they did not realise they had beforehand. Knowing their strengths is an essential ingredient for them to live a happy fulfilled life – both personally and in careers. We need to understand our strengths to understand who we are and who we want to be. We need to understand our strengths to understand what area of work we should aim for, to be happy and successful in our jobs.

    Setting Goals is one of my personal favourites. There is a saying “Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes”, to me this is so important. I have worked with so many teenagers and young adults who have spent months and years reading self-help books and motivation books, and when I ask them “So what have you done”?, they look at me blankly. You have to take the first step to change if you want anything to change, reading about it, writing about it will not Change it. You have to ‘do’ something. This section really resonated with the students as I put the ball back in their court – told them they have to stop blaming parents, teachers, the weather – if they want something in life they have to get out there at get it – make the necessary changes in their lives and go for it. Everything worthwhile takes effort – nothing comes easy.

    Values – this section surprised me most of all as it was the area most of them said they really learned something about themselves in.
    What are Values –
    Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.
    When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your personal values, that’s when things feel… wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness.
    This feeling of ‘wrong’ really made sense to them. The students wrote down the values they thought their age group ‘have’ and the values they thought their age group ‘should have’. What this did was it showed them that they all wanted the same things – yet many were living against their values to be part of their peer group or to be popular. We all need to take time out to allow ourselves to get to know ourselves better, and this is doubly true for our younger generation who have grown up with another voice in their heads – social media.

    I strongly believe our educational department has to look at this area and provide modules to help kids live in this every changing technological run world in a more positive and self aware way. We, their parents, teachers, mentors have to help them to get this support.

    Lack of face to face communication, low self-esteem, peer pressure, lack of understanding around friendships and relationships are a few of the growing concerns I see daily. We have to support them to understand the importance of realising the reality of social media v’s the real world. There are many positives to social media, but unfortunately there are many very damaging aspects also which I find very worrying.

    A few comments from the students after this workshop;
    “I feel like my age group can do things because of peer pressure. I think this workshop might open their eyes.”
    “I believe this workshop is needed because it helps people my age to realise that they can’t change something without putting effort in.”
    “this workshop shows us that social media is not that important and I need to start seeing my strengths and not be so harsh on myself.”
    “helped me to realise I have to stop putting myself down so much and be proud of myself.”
    “It really opened my eyes to things that I didn’t even notice were going on.”
    “taught me to be nicer to people and appreciate the important people in my life before its too late.”
    “it helped me to understand my values and to see how they effect my actions and my feelings towards other people.”
    “it showed me how important it is to be kind to myself instead of knocking myself.”
    ‘Im going to spend less time on my phone and more time with family and myself.”
    “it made me think about my personality and my values and helped me to understand who I want to be.”
    “spend more time with actual real friends and family and less time on my phone and virtual friends – and if we want something to happen just go out and make it happen.”
    “I am going to think more positively about myself and not always think about the bad things”
    “understand that not everything is about your phone and your appearance.”
    “how to look after myself the correct way – to take a break from social media””
    “it might encourage me to see myself differently and be grateful for all I have in my life”
    “the importance of valuing the people I am with in the moment and get off my phone when with people I value in my life”

    If you have any queries relating to any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch – Eileen

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    Self-respect – Understanding Your Impact on Yourself

    Having self-respect means standing by our values and treating ourselves with as much kindness, patience, compassion, and understanding that we would have with our best friend, our favourite teacher, or our favourite relative.
    the word “respect” means to hold in esteem or honour; to show regard or consideration for. The word “self-respect” means to hold “proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one’s character”.
    An easy way to talk with our kids about self-respect is to teach them to treat themselves as they would treat others (like your best friend, your favourite teacher, or your favourite relative).
    So if we look at the complete definition it means “treat others the way you would want to be treated and treat yourself as you would treat others.”
    Too many people live in a world of “self-beat-up” – putting themselves down and saying things to themselves that they would never say to someone else.

    Why is self-respect important?
    Self-respect is critical for developing strong self-esteem. When we respect ourselves, we like ourselves.
    How we treat ourselves impacts every area of our life from our relationships to our career to our happiness. It also impacts how other people treat us. If others see us put ourselves down, they may put us down as well. By having self-respect, we show others how to treat us.
    Coaching tips for parents
    How we can help our kids learn self-respect?
    We can help our children learn self-respect by modelling self-respect ourselves and by talking with them about the importance of self-respect. Here are some specific tips:
    Teach positive self-talk- if our children see us putting ourselves down all the time, how will they ever learn not to do the same?
    Teach children how to engage in positive self-talk. Kids should never call themselves names or put themselves down.
    2. Discuss values – Discuss your children’s values with them. Make sure they understand what they believe in and the importance of standing by their values.

    Self-respect – Understanding Your Impact on You
    3. Discuss decision making-
    Talk with your children about important issues such as cheating, lying, stealing, skipping school, bullying others, experimenting with drugs/alcohol, so they understand and decide what they want for themselves. This will help them choose their own beliefs when feeling pressured by peers to do something they don’t want to do. As parents we can try to tell them what to do but it is much more important for them to understand what their own values are and why they are so important.
    4. Choose compassion-Talk with your children about treating themselves with kindness and having compassion for themselves. Give them the tools for 
managing mistakes, handling challenges, and overcoming failure so they can stand strong and remain confident even when things don’t go their way. We live in a world where being the best and winning has become far too important. Kids need to understand that it is ok to ‘not be the best’ / ‘not get full marks on a test’ / ‘not be the most popular’ / ‘not be on the 1st team’ – it is so important for them to understand this at an early age. To do THEIR best is always good enough.
    5. Embrace uniqueness-Talk with your children about honouring and embracing their own uniqueness so they don’t cave into peer pressure to conform to other’s 
styles, beliefs, and actions. Kids often put themselves down because they see everyone else as better than they are. Teach them to honour and love what is special about them.
    6. Look for “teachable moments” – Look for examples to start a discussion. If you see someone treating themselves with respect, point it out as an example of 
self-respect. The opposite is true too. If you see someone allowing others to treat them poorly, point it out as an example of a lack of self-respect. Then ask them how each situation would make them feel if it was them.
    7. Discuss how to be in a relationship–As your children get older, talk with them about how to be in a relationship with someone. Lack of respect within relationships is at an all time high amongst teens. Up loading inappropriate images, conversations and videos is becoming a real problem. This is both in friendship and romantic relationship.
    Remember that children learn from everything we say and do (they are constantly developing belief systems (both consciously and subconsciously based on what they hear and see). We can help our kids learn to have self-respect by demonstrating respectful behaviour towards ourselves. It is impossible to behave perfectly all the time but to become more aware of what our children notice and hear is so important. By their nature alone they will watch and listen to as much as they possibly can at home – even behind closed doors.
    Key points
    1. Treating yourself with respect and demanding that others treat you with respect is a choice.
    2. You are not showing self-respect when you “put yourself down” or “beat your self up”.
    3. You are not showing self-respect when you allow others to put you down or be verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive towards you.
    4. You are not showing self-respect when you put others needs before your own to the detriment of yourself.
    5. Saying “yes” to your values and “no” to peer pressure develops powerful self- respect.

    It is not always easy to stand up to peer pressure but if your kids understand respect, understand what values mean and how important they are – and if they see your values and how you live by them, you will go a long way to helping them be stronger, more confident kids.

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