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Looking at Values:

Being Considerate

Thinking About Being Considerate

Definition: Acts so that his behavior is pleasant or acceptable to another person.
Behavior reflecting
the value:
He is polite. He takes his place in line. He gives the largest piece of candy to his playmate. When driving he allows a car to move ahead. He speaks kindly to another.
Knowledge and
skills needed:
He is able to empathize, to know another person's feelings. He can predict how his actions will impact someone else. He can modulate his behavior according to his understanding of another person. Being considerate also includes knowing what is considered to be kindly behavior in a specific society or culture.
Insights about the
Your child can be considerate in two different ways. One way is to follow rather rigidly a set of guidelines, the rules of etiquette, for example. The other way is to tailor his behavior to the individual likes and dislikes of a specific person. The second way is much more complex and involved. It takes considerably more time and thought.
Value present
at birth?

Teaching or Preserving Being Considerate
Baby: Your baby is building a basis for considerate behavior by experiencing your considerate treatment of him.
Toddler/Preschooler: At this age your child experiences being considerate by being told how to be so. You tell him to say "please" and "thank you." With help from you and other adults, when he reaches preschool age he can begin to realize that others have feelings and likes and dislikes just as he does. Children experience what it feels like to be treated considerately when other people talk to and treat them considerately.
School age/Teenage: When your child reaches age six or seven, he begins to comprehend how others feel. He also begins to understand a simple code of behavior---that in our society you do certain things and act in certain ways to demonstrate considerateness. As a parent you can now expect him to be considerate without having to be prompted all the time. Be aware, however, that in American society today there are many influences that encourage children NOT to be considerate of others. For teenagers, this trend frequently becomes the predominant pattern of behavior. It creates tensions within the home. This dominance of inconsiderate behavior often means that young people live in a mean world because they treat each other so unkindly.

Influences on Learning to be Considerate
Needs: Your child's needs to be liked and to be part of the group can motivate him to be considerate (at least before he becomes a teenager).
Temperament: If your child is outgoing and comfortable around people he may find it easier to be considerate than if he tends to withdraw around other people.
Learning style: Your prompts for being considerate, such as "Say 'please,'" are apt to be spoken. If your child doesn't take in oral information easily, you may need to teach him through a different learning style. Try reading a picture book together or watching a movie dealing with considerate behavior. One good book among many for young children is "Miss Tizzy" by Libba Moore Gray, illustrated by Jada Rowland (ISBN 0-689-81897-1). Modeling the considerate behavior and helping your child to follow suit will help the kinesthetic child learn.

Reflections about Being Considerate
Influence of other
Being considerate is part of an ethical code or of other values, such as caring. If your child can empathize, that ability will certainly help him be considerate in a manner appropriate for the other person.
New thinking
resulting from

It can be a very complicated matter to meet the goal of considerate behavior when you have to adapt your personal code of behavior to the likes and dislikes of specific people or cultures. Example: A teenager has been taught to hold the heavy door open for the adult behind him, but when he does so in a large metropolitan American city, he finds himself holding the door for the next half hour while people rush in and out without a word to him. What will he do next time?

Our society accepts inconsiderate behavior toward children. Many people consider it a right by virtue of age, at least, to interrupt children's work, play, and conversations, speak down to them, call them names and/or belittle them, hit them, take advantage of them, and more, thus modeling behavior that does not teach considerate behavior.

Adapted from Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to Be an Adult You Admire by Harriet Heath, Ph.D.

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Last updated May 05, 2008