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Project Appleseed

How Can Parents Raise Their Children To Become Responsible Citizens?

Academic success is important, but what can a well-educated student accomplish if they do not have a strong character, good values, and laudable aspirations? While most parents and teachers know how to instruct a child to read or do long division, fewer people know how to best help their children become responsible citizens and positive contributors to society. While the lessons are not as straightforward and while they may not happen in the classroom, all parents can help their child develop real-life skills and values that will make them strong, helpful and effective people.


Parents may focus on the following values when building their children’s character:


  • Empathy, compassion and understanding

  • Respect of others and self-respect

  • Fairness

  • Responsibility

  • Equality

  • Honest

  • Good Judgment

  • Standing up for beliefs

  • Self-discipline and hard work

  • Thoughtfulness and self-reflection

  • Helping others

These are very big concepts and ideas – and ones that are hard to sit down and teach or deliver lecture about. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways that parents can promote these values during everyday life with their kids:


  • Encourage your child to reflect on his or her actions. The best way to learn from mistakes, grow, and mature, is to learn to analyze and process actions and events. After something significant ha happened in your child’s life, ask them to talk about it. Ask questions like, “How did that make you feel?” “What would you like to do differently next time?” and “How do you think the other person felt?”


  • Expose your child to as many new experiences and ideas as possible. Serve food in a homeless shelter. Go to the public library. Take a road trip. Sign up for soccer lessons. The more your child experiences and learns the more chances he will have to understand the world, find his interests and recognize opportunities.


  • Let your child make decisions. Think through decisions out loud with your child and give her a chance to contribute thoughts. Ask her, “Would this a good idea in the long run?” “How would this make others feel?” “Would this be helpful?”


  • Tell a story. Many times we learn from our own mistakes – but it is much more pleasant to learn from the mistakes of others! Tell your children stories of your own decision, mistakes, and adventures so that they can take from the wisdom you have acquired during your own youth.


  • Talk about what you see on television. While watching TV is not the best family activity, it is part of our lives and can even be an opportunity for learning if you and your child see something disturbing on television, such as violence, illegal activity, or poor moral behavior, talk to your child about what you saw and how it made them feel.


  • Set a good example. Children learn less from what their parents say than what they do. If you yourself are a responsible and caring citizen, your children will observe you and strive to emulate your actions.


​Written by Elliott Shostak for Project Appleseed


Project Appleseed
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