Title: What are the most important values a child must learn in life?
Date: 22-Aug-2012

Values are standards of good and evil which influence an individual’s behaviour and choices. Values are being taught as part of our education syllabus because it is important that these values are being cultivated in children from the early stages.

Why is it important? Because today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. What will happen to a country where their future leaders do not possess good values? Will good ethics be practised by our future doctors, lawyers and engineers? Children have to be taught at a young age to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad. These will in future affect the child’s behaviour and attitude. In today’s society, where materialism has slowly taken over, we tend to forget to exhibit good values towards our parents, siblings, elderly people, friends and all those around us. However, is this importance being emphasised enough?


So, what values should we inculcate in our children? First of all, a child should be taught to show respect to others. This includes people from all walks of life, regardless of religion, race, sex and most importantly people who are less fortunate in terms of financial or ability. They should also be taught to respect others’ ideas and opinions. They should be made to understand that every person has his or her own unique role in society and contributes in different ways. There is no one person greater than another. While respecting others is important, self-respect is equally so. A child needs to be made aware of self-love and dignity and that every life is precious. They should be taught to abstain from risky sexual behaviour.


There is a popular saying which goes “Honesty is the best policy.” Indeed it is. It is fundamental that a child embraces this value. A child must learn to be honest towards others and in their actions. It is increasingly common in today’s society where people wear different ‘masks’. These ‘masks’ are used to hide their true self in order to portray a person they are not. Our children must be taught to treat others with sincerity and truthfulness. Dishonesty will lead to actions such as cheating and stealing and subsequently lead to more detrimental consequences. Honesty is also bedrock to build proper relationships. A child needs to realise that this value plays an important part in fostering strong, solid relationships with their family, friends and future partners. 


Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher, once said “Compassion is the basis of morality.” Compassion is defined as being sensitive to the needs of others. Imagine what our world would be like if there was no compassion. It would be a selfish, cruel and ugly world. We definitely do not want our children to be living in such a world. Though nowadays, where everyone is busy earning a living for themselves, people only care about their own well-being at the expense of others. Our children should be taught to be helpful to those in need and to put others’ needs before theirs. They should not do things that will cause harm or hurt to other people. They should set it in their minds to treat everyone like how they themselves want to be treated. This is a simple yet powerful principle in life.


Unlike in the past, it is safe to say that a majority of today’s generation do not need to go through the hardships like how past generations did. However, it is still essential to instil the value of hard work in our children. Most of them might fail to understand this value as most of the luxury things in life are easily accessible to them. If they cannot appreciate the importance of the process of obtaining these things, it will then be taken for granted. They must learn that to succeed, one needs to put in a certain amount of effort. A down-to-earth attitude needs to be encouraged amongst children for them to be aware that there is no shortcut to success.  


We should implant these important values in our children’s minds to prepare them for their future roles in the society. Though not limited to these four values, we would also like to see our future generation carry along with them other values such as determination, forgiveness, responsibility, thoughtfulness and commitment. Besides gaining knowledge and skills, having good values is equally important in determining a child’s future. Good knowledge and skills will prepare a child for a bright future but proper values and principles will keep them there.                         


The article is written by “Elsie Wong”  

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