by Jayshree Sita, mom to 2 gorgeous, lively kids, Amishka 9yrs and Vishen  5yrs.  She traded the glamorous life of a chartered accountant to become a teacher. She’s also an aspiring writer and artist who is passionate about self-development and keeping her family happy.

I was once again frustrated with my 5 yr old because he did not want to get ready for school, and was wondering how best to get him to co-operate with the early morning routine. I’ve tried many times to have rules that we agree on, as well as incentive plans and punishments. Somehow, none seem to have worked consistently.

I remembered an idea in the Stephen Covey book, “7 Habits of Effective Families”…suggesting we formulate a family vision and mission statement, including  a set of family values to guide us.

So, I thought that if we agreed on “punctuality” as a family value, this might work better than the “be on time or else…” philosophy.

I  decided to define and agree on values together with my kids. This is what we came up with:

1.       Be caring and kind to each other

  • handy when kids or parents get angry and want to lash out
  • help family members support each other in times of need

2.       Take care of our things

  • A  way to remind kids to care for their toys & books as well as the family property

3.       Have fun together

  • The kids idea – an important reminder to adults to see the world through their innocent eyes

4.       Be honest

  • so that we know that we can trust each other
  • Do the right thing according to your conscience

5.       Learn to say sorry

  • to show empathy and not be afraid to make mistakes in relationships, but have the courage and humility to make amends.

6.       Be punctual

  • Necessary to get to school on time

7.       Share work

  • So that they realize that Mom and Dad and the Nanny are not the only ones who need to work around the house, that everyone should have  responsibilities.

8.       Respect privacy

  • everyone needs a space to call their own, a space to retreat when feelings are hurt, and to keep their special things.

9.       Everyone gets a turn to talk, and the rest must listen without interrupting

  • The basis of all respectful interactions and helps to understand each other, making for a harmonious home.

10.   Share stories

  • Builds a family history to know about each person’s day.
  • Builds conversation skills.
  • Keeps relationships special.

11.   Learning is important

  • If kids accept this, they stay motivated to go to school, do homework and study independently.
  • If they learn for pleasure, the world will be their oyster.

12.   Say thank you every day

  • Allows them to appreciate all the good things in their lives

13.   Everyone is unique and special in their own way

  • Allows us to respect differences
  • Allows individuality to develop
  • Allows unique talents to be nurtured

I must admit, drawing up this list felt a lot better than drawing up a list of rules. I felt great that my kids agreed to everything on the list- in fact they came up with a lot of it. I also know that agreeing on the values is only half the battle won, living by them will be the challenge.

Bearing in mind that we all learn by experience and not by words, I guess the journey has just begun.

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