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As parents, we want to instill values in our children--to help them understand the difference between right and wrong so they will grow up to become moral people. But which values do we want to teach, when can we start, and how do we go about it in the face of a culture that in many ways undermines our efforts?

With the help of parents, clergy, and psychologists, Beliefnet has identified ten of the core values that underlie ethical behavior. Divided into age-by-age chunks, each section describes how children understand and express these values at different stages of development--from birth to teens--and what parents can do to foster them. Each value is linked to age-related books, videos, story tapes, and activities that deepen understanding and bring families closer. Since kids develop at their own rate, you may want to check earlier and later age groups to see if these match your child's stage. Take the brief "role model" quiz to see what kind of an example you're setting. And consult Beliefnet's ethics expert, Joseph Telushkin, on difficult questions.

Your child's best source for learning about values is you--the way you do things as a family, how you react to hard times, and your decisions as a parent. It's our hope that the Values Toolkit can help you create a roadmap for this challenging and important journey.

To begin, select a value:



Credits:
Beliefnet Producers: Wendy Schuman, Jon Lowet, Rebecca Phillips

Writers: Barbara Solomon, Terri Payne Butler, Therese Borchard, Lisa Konick

Advisors:
  • Michael Schulman, chair, Columbia University Seminar on Moral Education, author of "Bringing Up a Moral Child"
  • William Damon, professor, School of Education, Stanford University, author of "The Moral Child" and "Greater Expectations"
  • Maurice Elias, professor of psychology, Rutgers University, co-author of "Emotionally Intelligent Parenting"
  • Marvin Berkowitz, professor of psychology, Marquette University
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