Helping kids understand the value of keeping promises
The Value of keeping promises. Storyberries offers free children's books and parenting tips to encourage kids to keep their promises.
Promises indicate that we really trust, value or love another person. It may be a promise not to share a secret, a commitment of marriage or a promise to keep one’s word.
On an emotional level, a promise can have the same value as a contract, even if it is not signed. When a person makes a firm commitment, the recipient of their promise takes it as truth. Breaking promises leads to feelings of disillusionment, sadness or anger, and even a sense of heartbreak or betrayal. Imagining how these sensations feel to a child is a helpful reminder to be good role models ourselves, and to fulfill our own promises.
Unfulfilled promises undermine adults’ authority. We lose credibility and create disappointment and confusion. Children may begin to distrust their caregivers, their environment, and even their own self worth.
There are lots of times when kids need to fulfill promises they’ve made – for example, promising to return a borrowed toy to a friend, promising to carry out a chore or promising to share something fairly.
Storyberries provides free children’s books, as well as parenting tips, to encourage kids to keep their promises.
Making promises we can actually keepThe main keys to promises is that they can be kept and that they are realistic. It is unrealistic, for example, to promise a child a computer tablet or the latest game console, to improve their relationship with their teacher.
In a wider sense, it is also worth reflecting on whether it is necessary or desirable to materialise either the relationship or the behaviour.
Keeping promises wherever possibleA promise is an ethical and moral commitment, so when we know that our child has made an agreement, we need to make sure they fulfill it, even if they don’t want to. This transmits values of personal responsibility, honesty, trust, and stability.
Thinking before making a promiseExplain to children that it is good idea for them to think before they make promises, This avoid impulsivity, and also helps them to be aware of their own motives. As care-givers we can also try to avoid making promises out of a sense of guilt, or as a quick way to get out of trouble.
Showing appreciationUse positive messaging, and take advantage of everyday events,, to show appreciation of fulfilled promises: “I am so happy you picked up your toys as you promised” or “Juan was pleased because we attended his birthday, as we said we would.”
Multi-sensory learningThere are excellent children’s stories, and beautiful cartoon episodes to do with promises. In the movie Finding Nemo, for example, Dory does her best to look for Nemo, thus fulfilling a promise she’d made.
Being a good role modelSo much of what children learn is from watching and copying the adults around them, so we can help by setting a good example of how to make and keep promises ourselves.
Keeping Lala Land CleanIn this beautifully illustrated and simple to understand picture book, all the animals in Lala land help to keep things clean and tidy. A helpful book to introduce the idea of helping one another, and doing the things we agree to do.
Where is Lulu?Young children love to borrow things but find it much harder to give them back! Lulu hides when it’s time to give her favourite book back to the library. A fun story to enjoy, and a delightful book to talk about borrowing, sharing and keeping promises.
This Forgetful ElephantTo be able to keep our promises we need to remember them! In this lovely short story, Peter the Forgetful Elephant knows that Susie will want him to remember their anniversary – not so easy for a very forgetful elephant! A great story for talking about commitment, promises and feelings.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com