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Family Feature Articles

Most recent posting below. See other articles in the column to the right.

How Do I Know Right From Wrong

Your foster child will look to you for answers to many questions. If they asked you, "How do I know right from wrong?" Do you know what you would say? Well, I have compiled a list of questions that your foster child may ask you at some point. It is important to think about these questions and have well thought out answers prepared. These answers will also help you in dealing with day-to-day issues even if you are not asked them directly as a question.

Why should I tell the truth?
Why should I care about myself?
Why should I care about others?
Why does life have a value?
Why should I follow any rules?
Why should I not take drugs?
Why should I not become pregnant?
If I want something why is it wrong to steal it?
Why should I get "A's" in school when my friends will only make fun of me?
Why is it wrong to curse?
Why is it wrong to hit kids when they annoy me?
Why should I listen to my teacher, they're not perfect?
Why shouldn't I smoke or drink, my friends do and they are fine?

The list could go on for a long time. Foster children and everyone else need to know why they should do the "right" thing and how to make a decision to do the "right" action. in the first place. They may say I should not tell lies because it will hurt someone. That means if you tell lies and it does not hurt anyone then it is O.K.? Wrong! You will need to gain respect from your foster child by answering these questions consistently in words and through your actions. Otherwise, why should they respect what you, a stranger, say?

Here is a possible scenario that plays out the development of a conversation regarding right and wrong. Listen to Dad and Stacy as they work on this problem:

DAD: Stacy tell me why you should tell the truth.
STACY: Because lying hurts people.
DAD: What if your lie doesn't hurt people, then what?
STACY: Ah, I don't know.
DAD: Stacy you need to have a foundation on which everything must stand, something bigger than yourself, a perfect standard to measure your actions and behaviors. That standard is the Bible. We should tell the truth because God says we should in the bible. When we lie we know that we did something wrong because our standard tells us. We are not guided by our feelings only. Then after that we can try to make the wrong right if we are able to. What do you think about that?
STACY: O.K.
DAD: So are you going to be honest and stop cheating?
STACY: What is cheating?
DAD: Cheating is just like lying, but it is lying by our actions. For example, someone does your homework for you, that is cheating. It is also lying because you allowed your teacher to believe that you did the work!
STACY: O.K. I get it.

The bottom line is: we need to give each foster child a standard to live by and role models whom they can follow. If not, then they can't begin to do anything as simple as being honest because with out a standard, there is no understandable reason to do what is "right." Children are mostly interested in ME and NOW! What will give ME the best outcome? If it makes MY life easy then it must be good. It is the right thing to do, if I receive a high energy boost and it is exciting for ME. These are the thoughts of children.

Having a standard gives us something outside of ourselves to go to when we have a problem. A child needs guide lines, ones that they know deep down to be right. Otherwise, they will start blaming their poor behavior on others. They may say I can't help it, I was raised this way. This is supposed to get them off the hook. "See it's not my fault. I know it is wrong, but..." They will try to wiggle out of everything you set-up. Just keep the standard before them. It can be as brief as the 10 commandments. When they have used up every excuse then they will justify "being mad at God". "If I am mad at God then I can do anything I want since he is unfair."

It isn't easy and of course, every child is "one of a kind" So once you establish the standard, then exhibit the positive effects from following the standard yourself. It is extremely important to "practice what you preach." The actions bring your words to life and give them REAL meaning. These children are real live people and many times they have been treated like they are insignificant. Treat them like they are significant. When you find yourself getting tired of the same old stuff, remember within a secure environment they will blossom and grow into nice hard working adults. Do not give up there is always hope for each one of these special children!


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