Examining Our Conscience

Many cultural and religious traditions have some kind of spiritual practice that involves reflecting on one’s activities over a period of time and evaluating how well they conform to shared values. Try one of these versions, either individually, as a family, or in a group setting.

Midday Reflection

Encourage children to take 5 minutes around lunchtime to think about their morning. Use these two questions: 1. What things have I (we) done so far today that reflect my (our) values? and 2. What could I (we) do better this afternoon?

Acknowledge the ways in which each of you have done well in living out your values with a self-affirmation, such as ‘good work!’ or ‘way to go!’, said silently or aloud.

Jot down the ways in which each of you would like to improve – perhaps on a sticky note or in a notepad app – and refer to it once or twice during the afternoon. Don’t beat yourselves up if you still fall short of your goals. Just remind yourselves of your intentions and keep trying.

Evening Reflection

Take 10 minutes before bedtime to think about the day with your child. Pick one of your personal or family values (e.g. treating other people with respect, sharing, resisting discrimination). Ask two questions:

  • When did I (we) insert value today? (E.g., When did we treat other people with respect today? When did I share something with others today? When did we resist discrimination today?)
  • How could I (we) make insert value a priority tomorrow? (E.g., How could I make showing respect for others a priority tomorrow? How could we make sharing with others a priority tomorrow? How could I make resisting discrimination a priority tomorrow?)

Make a note – in your heads, in an app, or on paper – of the value you want to focus on the next day. Remind yourselves of your plan at breakfast and lunchtime. Don’t worry if you have trouble at first remembering what it is you want to do. Just keep trying.

Reflecting with Very Young Children

  • Sit with toddlers or preschoolers and share with them a value that matters for your family (group). [In our family (group), we like for everyone to share, or In our family (group), we use our words instead of hitting.]
  • Share a time during the day when you saw the child (children) enact the value you have named and affirm that action. [Alex, I saw you share the blocks with Olivia – good for you!] Name one or more value-oriented actions for each child.
  • Tell the child (children) that we can always get better at insert value (such as sharing or using our words).
  • Ask them what else they can do to insert value (e.g. sharing or using our words) or offer a specific example of how they can do more to live out the value. [You could share the paints, too!, or Tomorrow, you could use your words three times!]
  • Verbally remind the child (children) of the value throughout the rest of the day or the next day. [We are sharing today, or We are using our words today.]



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