There is joy in being loyal to family, to employers,
to country, church, schools, and other organizations and
institutions to which commitments are made. Loyalty implies support, service, contribution.
General Method: Highlight your own loyalty
Make your children aware of your own example. Parents do things every day that illustrate their loyalty to their children. But so many of these things are so automatic that they are seldom noticed and seldom used as visible examples of this important joy. Instead of saying, "I'll pick you up after school," say, "I'll be there at three-thirty – you can count on it!" Instead of just going to a child's soccer game or music recital, say, "I'll be there no matter how busy I am because I want to be with you and support what you do!"
Tell children more often that you will always be there for them, that they can depend on you, that you'll be behind them in hard times. Take credit for your loyalty, because it is the best way to instill the same qualities into your children.
Ideas for Preschoolers
The Pick-the-Right-Answer Game
This game can help small children who have started reading to understand and use the word loyal.
Prepare a simple chart that shows the word and its opposite:
Explain that you are going to tell a little story about several different people and you want the child to point to the word on the chart that describes how the person is acting or behaving.
Family Traditions, Mottos, Slogans, and so on
- Janet's school class planned to have a car wash in the school parking lot to raise money. Those who could were asked to come and help, but no one had to come. Janet came and brought some towels and a bucket. (Loyal -- to her school.)
- Tammy was with two girls on the bus one day when one of the girls said some bad things that weren't true about Tammy's best friend, Jill. Tammy didn't say anything. (Disloyal – to her friend.)
- Jason's little brother had a Little League game one night. Jason had a lot of homework, but he worked hard at it until game time and then went to cheer for his brother. (Loyal – to his brother.)
- Alice always thought about the Pledge of Allegiance when her class said it. She felt proud to be an American. (Loyal – to her country.)
These can help small children feel the loyalty and security of belonging to a strong family, to an institution for which they can feel loyalty. Develop a simple family slogan and motto and say them together every day during the week ahead. Then perhaps once a week. Have an ongoing family tradition of supporting other family members in their activities. (Attend games, performances, etc.)
Ideas for Elementary Age
The Synonyms and Antonyms Game
This game will help late elementary school or early-adolescent children be clear in their understanding of the word loyalty. Simply ask, "What are some synonyms or close synonyms for loyalty?" (To stand up for, to be part of, to be true to.) "What are some antonyms or near antonyms for loyal? (Uncommitted, traitor, spy, out for oneself.) Then discuss how loyalty helps people and how its opposites hurt people.
Help your children see the concepts more clearly and become comfortable thinking about them. Ask them what or who they could be loyal to (country, church, school, employer, friends, family, etc.) Make a list.
The True-and-False-Loyalty Discussion
This is a good way to help children see the difference between loyalty and "not ratting." Explain that some children get the idea that loyalty to friends means "not telling on them" or "keeping quiet" or even lying to protect them. This is "false loyalty." Explain that if someone has done something wrong, a truly loyal friend would try to get him to admit it, and if that didn't work, he would tell someone. If neither happens, the friend will probably keep doing wrong and get in more serious trouble.
Simple stories that you can make up on the spot can help children feel and live situations of loyalty and dependability vicariously. Elementary-age children are the easiest age to make up stories for. Tell them a story or two (out of your own mind) that illustrates loyalty. Example topics: A spy story – someone who was a disloyal traitor. A sports story – maybe a member of a relay team who was tired after his individual event but still ran the relay because he was loyal to his team.
Metaphor of Constructing a Building
This can help children understand that "doing one's part" is a key part of loyalty. Ask children to imagine that there were 100 people who wanted to build a brick wall and that the wall would need 10,000 bricks. How many bricks would each person have to put up if they all helped? (100) How many bricks would each person have to put up if only 10 helped? (1,000) Make the point that when people are loyal, everything is more pleasant and more fair.
Ideas for Adolescents
These help older children pinpoint who and what they want to be loyal to. Work together with the children on forming a loyalty list (family members, school, church, friends, etc.) and discuss how to be loyal to each thing on the list.
Pass It On
Case studies can help adolescents see the far-reaching effects of loyalty. For example, Jim has won a part in the church play and committed himself to be at practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights. He is studying with a friend, loses track of time, and misses a key practice. Who is affected? (Others in the play, who can't rehearse their lines without his. The director, who has to shift things around. Ultimately the audience who may see a less professional play.) Think of other examples.
Discussion of True Friendship
Summarize the value of loyalty. Ask adolescents what they think is the most important and valuable quality in a friend. Challenge them to think of any more important or more crucial factor than loyalty.
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