We live in an ever-changing world. What is new today can be quickly replaced with something brighter and shinier tomorrow. And because of our somewhat disposable outlook on things, it can be difficult for kids to stick to something and stay true to themselves and to others. That’s why knowing how to teach your child loyalty is more important than ever.
Richard Peterson, Vice President of Education for Kiddie Academy, a nationwide leader in educational childcare, said in a Family Essentials article, “Loyalty is the feeling of devotion or faithfulness we have toward our family members, friends, country or cause in which we believe. Being loyal means we’re committed and being committed means we make promises and keep them. We do what we say we’ll do for the people we care about.”
But how do we teach our children the concept of loyalty?
Lead by Example
Loyalty starts at home and is built on a sense of respect. Treating each other with kindness and consideration builds love and a natural feeling of loyalty is developed.
Being mindful of the words that come out of our mouths is key, too. Parents should speak positively about friends, family members and teachers, looking for the good in others and sharing it. Children learn more by watching adults demonstrate loyalty than by talking about it.
Thanking your children when they’re on time or when they help reinforces the value of loyalty. When a child sees loyalty demonstrated at home, they start to extend their own loyalty outside of the family to friends and teachers.
Children first experience loyalty inside the family, only after it’s established can they expand their understanding to include others and ideals.
Life gets busy and juggling an array of activities can be overwhelming, but spending time together as a family creates a sense of cohesiveness and loyalty in a family unit. Eat dinner together and plan weekly family time that encourages conversation and opens the door to sharing.
Let Children Resolve Their Own Conflicts
From fighting over toys at home, to having an argument with a friend a school, children need to learn to resolve their own conflicts. Parents should reassure children that just because a conflict arises, the friendships doesn’t need to end.
“Loyalty doesn’t mean we never have disagreements,” Patti Anderson, a preschool teacher of 22 years tells Parentology, “It means we respect one another even when we disagree with them.”
By teaching children conflict resolution, you can help strengthen friendships and the understanding of loyalty. As Peterson puts it, “When you’re loyal, friends feel they can trust you and that you won’t betray them – even if you disagree with them. If you’re loyal to another person and trust them, you can talk to one another about your differences and develop a deeper understanding and stronger relationship.”
Understanding Different Types of Loyalty
While it’s admirable to stand by a friend through thick and thin, it’s also important to be loyal to your own values. This is what makes loyalty so complicated. Children should be taught loyalty doesn’t always mean going along with something that feels wrong. It’s okay to check in with oneself and ask, “Is this a good choice for me?” The message for children: they can still be loyal to a friend without getting behind bad choices that friend is making.
Need some reinforcement in getting lessons about loyalty across? Some popular books to help children learn about loyalty from an early age are: Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Suess, Amos & Boris by Willian Steig and The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.
There’s a joy to finding loyalty, but it starts with you. Letting your children know you’ll always be there for them and that they can always depend on you – during the good and the bad — is the best loyalty lesson in itself.
How to Teach Your Child Loyalty — Sources