A young child has the capacity to absorb incredible amounts of information from their environment at a very young age, effortlessly, continuously, and indiscriminately. As children develop 85% of their core brain structure by the time they are five years old, it is never too early to start teaching them valuable life lessons. 

As someone who learned valuable life lessons at a very young age, Dan Orfin of Troy, Michigan, knows how important these first memories can be. He shares how to instill valuable lessons during your child’s formative years. 

Making Mistakes

It might be an instinct to protect your children at any cost, but Dan Orfin explains that allowing them to make bad decisions, mistakes, and missteps is a great way to instill the lesson of resilience and responsibility. If they choose to follow through with something you disagree with — as long as it is low risk, allow them. If things do not turn out well, sit down and evaluate how they could improve on this action in the future, or underline why what they did was wrong. Your children should be allowed to process their emotions related to good or bad decisions and all you need to do is support them.

Encouraging Determination

We all want our children to succeed and instilling a sense of determination and grit within them can set them up for success later in life. The easiest way to encourage determination in a child is to avoid excessive and unwarranted praise, providing your child with kind, supportive, and honest feedback. 

Dan Orfin explains that its important to congratulate your children when they produce good work and stick with activities that are difficult. It is important to remember that aside from some very small exceptions, success is not determined by inherent talent or genius, but rather by hard work and dedication. When things get difficult, encourage your children not to give up. 

Practicing Honesty

Most children will lie from time to time, but promoting honesty as a primary value in your children can set them up for success beyond their developing years. One of the best ways to foster this value is by practicing it yourself. While it may seem natural to lie about being sick to get out of an obligation, children have a very difficult time differentiating between the types of lies we tell and need things to be very black and white.

 If, or rather when, your child lies, encourage them to tell the truth by ensuring them that you will not get upset or yell. Of course, this may still require discipline, but re-enforcing how happy you are that they told you the truth is important in encouraging this behaviour in the future. 

Dan Orfin Explains Instilling the Value of Money

Lastly, Dan Orfin suggests instilling the value of money in your children. As he has benefitted from this lesson in his own life, Dan Orfin has always believed in the notion that if you want something, you have to work hard and smart to get it. 

Explaining very plainly to your children that every dollar is earned through hard work can help them understand this concept. When you do buy a bigger ticket item, explain to them how long it took you to save up for it and how many hours you worked to afford it. Dan Orfin also suggests giving your child a small allowance in return for the completion of chores.