How do you teach children about loyalty, its benefits, dangers and all that lies between?
Loyalty is devotion and faithfulness to a cause, country, group, or person. However to a child, loyalty is merely an abstract concept. Children feel their first loyalty toward their family and as they get older loyalty spreads to others causes or ideals. Loyalty is a highly important trait, and is essential for human relationships to succeed. In fact, loyalty is even necessary to maintain a healthy relationship with oneself. Therefore teaching children about loyalty from a young age will prove very important throughout their lifetime.
Teach children about loyalty to oneself.
The most important place a person can begin with loyalty is to learn about the importance of being loyal to oneself. Teach children about loyalty first to themselves and his or her core values, and that all other relationships will fall in line with it. When you choose to trust yourself and listen to your heart, you can avoid a lot of misplaced loyalty towards others, and can save yourself from much pain. Talk with your child about your own experience with trusting yourself.
Encourage loyalty among siblings and family.
As children get older they get preoccupied with other activities, friends, school, ect. Don’t let that interfere with family time. By having regular family time your creating a sense of consistency and loyalty throughout even the simplest of family nights. For instance game night or movie night or even the more planned adventures like family vacations encourages strong loving bonds within family members. If sibling rivalry rares it ugly head, encourage siblings to work out arguments and help them to never lose focus on the fact that family is forever.
A child’s loyalty to his family circle, parents and siblings, of course expands to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, as well as other family members. Make is a habit to visit the grandparents and extended family regularly, even frequently, if possible. Share tales about your childhood adventures and family memories. Be sure to hand down traditions from the previous generations of your family – these will be treasured later. Display photos around your home of extended family members. Encourage your children to join you in writing letters and sending gifts to the grandparents and other family members. All of these activities will teach your kids loyalty by reinforcing your their sense of family.
Teach children about loyalty to those close to them.
In our culture today children see and hear negative and disparaging remarks just by turning on the television or walking out your front door. If you want to teach your child about loyalty in the most natural way, then don’t allow for these kind of behaviors in your children. Model your behavior in the way you want your children to identify with by speaking positively of teachers, community leaders, family members, and other individuals in your life who are deserving of it. Your child will learn all about loyalty when you live it out on a daily basis.
Look for the good in others and share positive moments with your children. Write a note or send a gift of appreciation to yours kids teachers or bus driver. Kids learn loyalty more by what you do than by anything you might say. As you model this attribute in your personal life, bring up the chance to talk about it with your child as a way to educate them at the same time.
Maintain open dialogue about friendships
As your child speaks to you about their budding friendships and relationships with every person in their life, keep an open conversation flowing. Talk to your child about how each of their friends make them feel, and how they are treated by that particular friend. Ask them about ways that their friends do and do not show loyalty. Ask your child if he has ways that he shows loyalty back to them. This will help your child to think of loyalty on a regular basis and begin to recognize its presence or absence in each friendship.
Talk to your child about “false loyalty”. Explain that loyalty does not mean “keeping quiet” or “not telling on friends” or even lying to protect friends. Tell your kids that when someone does something wrong, a true loyal friend would try to get them to admit it, and if they just won’t, he or she would tell someone – a parent, teacher, ect.. If nothing happens, the friend would most likely continue doing bad things and possibly get into serious trouble.
Talk about what makes someone deserving of loyalty
As you encourage this open dialogue, talk about the characteristics of a good friend. Ask your child to identify what makes them feel loyal to certain friends more than others. Give them a chance to air their thoughts and feelings, and answer any questions they may have.
Loyalty is a virtue of great worth. It is a gift that gives back to the giver over and over again. Teaching your child to live out appropriately directed loyalty will bring lifelong benefits to them, while teaching them how to be wise with who they give loyalty to will help protect their hearts.
Photo Credit: congerdesign