Lesson 7 - Teaching Your Vales to Your Children

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As you go about teaching your values to your children keep Rule 4 in mind: "It doesn't matter what you say, it is what they say for themselves that counts!" 

To teach your values to your children you must use methods and techniques that get your children to "say it for themselves." You can tell your children that they should be honest until you are blue in the face, but it will not bring about lasting change in their behavior until they choose to adopt honesty into their personal ideas about themselves. Keep in mind that you are trying to input the ideas into their heads that will rule their worlds.


  • Buy, or better yet, make for your child a notebook to be a record of their investigation into the world of possibilities for their lives. The earlier in their life that you do this the better. Five years old is not too young. You might have to write it for them at this point, but as soon as they can write let them take over.
  1. Have them start a list of everything they can DO, BE, or HAVE. Start this list when you both can spend enough time to fill at least two full pages with possibilities. Then keep the list handy and add to it at every possible opportunity. Allow them to list both positive and negative possibilities, because this teaches them that part of the process of making good decisions lies in eliminating bad choices as well as picking good choices.
  2. Continue this process until your child has filled at least six pages with possibilities then move to STEP TWO.


  1. From their six page list of possibilities created in step one, have your children pick the twenty that they would most like to DO, BE, or HAVE in their life. The child should keep this list private; otherwise this process will become an exercise in pleasing others rather than an exercise in self guided behavior. (Some families will use the Bible or other religious book as a guide in selecting items for this list. Others will guide their children to seek the advice of others, like Grandparents or youth leaders in making these selections of their top twenty.) Children must be allowed to ask for advice and then allowed to not use it if they disagree.
  2. Once the child has picked a list of twenty, then have them prioritize the list from one to twenty, starting with the one that they would most like to accomplish on down to the least.
  3. Tell them that this list is just a starting place and it can be altered at any time. (It is their list and nobody else will ever see it so it can be changed at any time with no consequences.) The list constitutes a roadmap for their life and they can pick a different road at any time. One should always check their roadmap to insure that the road they are on will get them to the destination that they want.

(Many parents question the idea of allowing this list to be a secret. Here is something to ponder if the idea of a private list causes you anxiety. If, in fact, you do convince your children that having a "Top Twenty List" is a good idea that will bring about real results and you force them to show it to you, then they will have a list that they show you and another real list for themselves! Why not empower them to do that in the first place. Where your input comes is in the selection of the items on the list.)

Remember, it will be easier to convince them to do this if you also do it!


  1. Guide your children to take time out of their day to read and think about their Top Twenty List. One of the most powerful ways to guide their behavior is to model it for them by doing it too. (Some families will include this list into daily prayers if religion is a big part of their life. It makes much more sense to kids to pray if they have something specific to pray for, and put into a context of prayer the list will often take on a much less self serving, and material feel.)
  2. Explain to your children that there are a couple of critical times each day to read this list: 1. first thing in the morning, and 2. last thing at night. If it is read first thing in the morning it programs the mind to focus on the important events and opportunities during the day. If it is read last thing at night it allows the mind to focus again before rest thus affirming progress and success during the day.


"Don't treat them as if they ought to be what you want them to be."

The ultimate insult to a child is to tell them that they "ought to be," because in doing so there is a hidden message that "you are not."

"Treat them as if they ARE!"

If we want to teach responsibility we must give responsibility not take it away.

If we want kids to feel important we must treat them as if they are.

If we as a society want our kids to grow up with a sense of belonging we must offer a place to belong.

If we want kids to be intelligent we must provide opportunities for them to think.


This is not a part-time job... there is no such thing as ‘quality time.’ There is TIME period! To do a good job with the raising of our children we must give them time, our time.. and lots of it!

Assignment Sheet – Lesson 7

Buy, or better yet help your child to make a notebook where they will record their "Possibility List" and their "Top 20 List". I strongly recommend that you do this with some real "ceremony or formality." It might be done by taking the child out to dinner with nobody else present and where you let your child know that you are turning over the running of their own life to them. You might even give your child a "certificate of full ownership of their own life"! Guide your child at this point to guard their "Notebook of Their Life" with the utmost of care and instruct your child to never share the contents with any other person because that way they prevent themselves from doing anything to please others or meet up with other people's expectations, wants, or needs. Impress upon them that this is the plan for their own life, period. It must be private!


  • Parents should have their children begin a list of possible opportunities. This list should include anything that they can DO, BE, or HAVE. It is strongly advised that this list should be associated with some real ceremony indicating that this a "Rite of Passage into Maturity." A very nice notebook should be made or purchased for keeping this record of possibility thinking and the notebook should be presented at an appropriately significant time and place.
  • Parents should then make a daily exercise of sitting down with their children to help them input new entries into this notebook. This “Possibilities List” should be "all inclusive" containing not only positive opportunities, but also negative opportunities. This acknowledges the real and unavoidable fact that good decisions almost always involve looking at all possibilities, eliminating bad choices, and then selecting the best positive choices based upon sound ideas! (It is at this step of searching for possibilities that parents can enter in this process. Once the possibilities list is formed, the parent must then trust their children to select their "Top 20 List" on their own!)
  • After this list has grown to five or six pages of possibilities, the parent then must challenge the child to take on the very difficult task of selecting their own "Top 20" list of the most desirable ideas that will become the reality for their own life; the list of the twenty things they would most like to DO, BE, or HAVE in their in their own life! It is important at this point to insist the child keep this "Top 20 List" private. They must select the ideas on their own list completely for themselves. The minute they share the list, it will change. (Remember Rule 4: "It doesn't matter what you say, it is what they say to themselves that counts!) Parents may always suggest things to include on the list, but their suggestions should remain just that: suggestions!
  • Parents should begin this process at as early an age as possible. Certainly, the process could begin as soon as a child can write. However if the child is already fifteen or eighteen, it is never too late. As a matter of fact, if parents have never done this, it would be very worthwhile for the parents to do this process right along with the child. It would not hurt most parents to have a very clear picture of the twenty most important ideas in their own lives!
  • While doing this exercise, parents should acknowledge that this is a very time consuming assignment! However, this process is absolutely worth the time invested. Parents who expend this time will never be sorry! Good things come from BIG commitments.


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