Parenting: Teaching Loyalty & Dependability
Dinner Topics for Thursday
By Richard and Linda Eyre
Loyalty to family, to employers, to country, church, schools, and other organizations and institutions to which commitments are made. Support, service, contribution. Reliability and consistency in doing what you say you will do.
General Methods for teaching Dependability and Loyalty
So . . . loyalty and dependability means doing what is right even when it is hard (and even if it means missing a party).
Children can learn what loyalty and dependability are through stories, games, role-playing, and discussion, but they can learn to have it only through your example and through your lavish praise of their example (or even of their attempts).
Highlight your own dependability. Make your children aware of your own example. Parents do things every day that illustrate their loyalty to their children and that exemplify dependability in the home setting. But so many of these things are so automatic that they are seldom noticed and seldom used as visible examples of this important moral value. Instead of saying, “I’ll pick you up after school,” say, “I’ll be there at three-thirty — you can count on it.” Instead of just going to a child’s soccer game or music recital, say, “I’ll be there no matter how busy I am because I want to be with you and support what you do!”
Tell children more often that you will always be there for them, that they can depend on you, that you’ll be behind them in hard times. Take credit for your dependability and loyalty, because it is the best way to instill the same qualities into your children.
Thank children and praise them for every evidence of their own dependability. Reinforce the value and show them how often it can be used. Thank your children when they are on time for dinner or when they support or help a smaller brother or sister. Praise them when they finish an assignment or task. Work hard this month at never taking for granted any act or evidence of dependability or loyalty.
Sample Method for Preschoolers:
Ask Small Children to Do Things Instead of Telling Them
You’ll obtain their answer, which you can use to teach dependability. When children are told to do something, they can learn and practice only the principle of obedience. But when small children are asked to do something in a firm but respectful way, they can learn both obedience and dependability.
Children actually say no, complain, and make excuses more when they are told than when they are asked. Use the word please, and let them know that you expect a yes. That yes then becomes a commitment to which you can tie the principle of dependability . . . of doing what you say you will do.
Sample Method for Elementary Age:
The Synonyms and Antonyms Game
This game will help late elementary school or early-adolescent children be clear in their understanding of both words. Simply ask, “What are some synonyms or close synonyms for dependability?” (Reliability, trustworthiness, consistency, predictability, etc.) “For loyalty?” (To stand up for, to be part of, to be true to.) “What are some antonyms or near antonyms for dependable?” (Can’t be counted on, unpredictable.) “For loyal?” (Uncommitted, traitor, spy, out for oneself.) Then discuss how dependability helps people and how its opposites hurt people.
Sample Method for Adolescent Age:
These help children pinpoint who and what they want to be loyal to and what things they want to be dependable on. Work together with the children on forming a loyalty list (family members, school, church, friends, etc.) and a dependability list (family job, school assignments, music practice, etc.)