Don’t you wish there was some magical tool that would get everyone on the same page in your household and make parenting a thousand times easier? A family motto isn’t going to magically fix everything, but I’ve learned it can definitely help a whole lot.
Our Family Motto and Core Values
Our family motto was created in 2020 when we all spend several weeks at home during the COVID shutdown. The parent educator who visited our house had previously recommended Conscious Discipline as a parenting resource, and it was during this time that I started to take it more seriously. I was finding that I was losing my temper a lot more than usual, with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic and suddenly working at home with three young children around 24/7. One of the resources I found was the idea of a “family commitment,” which summarizes your family values. I adapted the concept a bit and our family motto was created.
I used Canva to make a small poster depicting a heart with our family picture inside of it. The text read “We are safe, helpful, and kind.” Those were the three core values I wanted my children to develop and commit to. Every time we left the house, even if it was just to play outside, we would look at the poster posted next to the door, read it together, and give high fives.
Family Mottos Help with Discipline
What I eventually discovered was that I could also use the motto to help with discipline. I don’t view discipline as punishment, but rather as a learning opportunity. Typically, when my child was in trouble, it was because they weren’t safe, helpful, or kind.
- For example, let’s say I caught my preschooler trying to jump off the back of the couch. I could say, “Jumping off the couch is not safe. We always try to stay safe, remember? Couches are for sitting. If you feel like jumping, you can go jump on the trampoline.”
- If my toddler snatched a toy from his big brother because he wanted a turn, I would say “It is not kind to snatch toys from someone. We are kind, remember? You can use your words to tell big brother you would like a turn with the toy.”
- If my oldest child doesn’t get her backpack together after I’ve already given her two reminders and now, we are running late I can say, “When you don’t follow directions and routines, it’s not helpful. Our family always tries to be helpful. Next time, I want you to get your materials ready so we can get out the door and to school on time.”
Typically, their negative behaviors are going to fall into those three categories. It helps me describe why I am correcting their behavior, so they aren’t wondering why they are in trouble. It’s also easier to describe what I want them to do next time, in line with our family values.
On the flip side of things, it’s also a great way to point out when your kids are doing something right. I praise them for being safe, helpful, and kind and for carrying out our family values. They recognize that these traits are valued.
Why Do Family Mottos Work So Well?
When it comes to parenting, having a family motto can be a powerful tool. Not only does it provide a sense of inclusivity and camaraderie within the family unit, but it also serves as an important reminder of core values or beliefs that you want your children to live by.
Think about it: when something goes wrong, family mottos can be a great source of motivation and support. For example, if your family motto is “always do what’s right”, then it serves as a gentle reminder to stay true to your values even when things get challenging or uncomfortable.
Family mottos can also help families stick together in times of hardship. Whether it’s a family crisis or everyday stressors, family mottos can help bring everyone back to the same level and remind them that they’re all in this together.
Finally, family mottos can be a great source of guidance during decision-making. By having a family motto, you can make sure that family decisions are based on values and principles rather than emotions or peer pressure.
How to Create a Family Motto
Creating a family motto can be a fun and meaningful activity for your family. Here are some steps you can follow to create your family motto:
- Gather your family together: The first step in creating a family motto is to gather your family members together and involve them in the process. This will help ensure that everyone feels a sense of ownership and connection to the motto.
- Brainstorm ideas: Begin by brainstorming ideas for your family motto. Ask everyone to suggest words, phrases, or sayings representing your family’s values, beliefs, and aspirations. You can also ask questions such as: What does our family stand for? What are our strengths and weaknesses? What are our goals and dreams? A vision board is a great way to work through your values and goals.
- Narrow down the options: Once you have a list of ideas, start to narrow down the options by discussing which ones resonate the most with everyone. Try to focus on ideas that are positive, inspiring, and meaningful to your family.
- Refine and finalize: Once you have a shortlist of ideas, refine them by tweaking the wording, and adding or removing words as necessary. You can also ask for feedback from friends or other family members who may offer a fresh perspective.
- Celebrate your new family motto: Once you have finalized your family motto, celebrate it by displaying it in a prominent place in your home or creating a family crest or emblem that incorporates it. You can also use it as a way to reinforce positive behavior or as a source of inspiration during difficult times. Canva is a fabulous, free tool to help you design a poster. Google Slides is also an option.
Ideas for a Family Motto
If you need some inspiration, here are a few family motto examples to get you started:
- Together we are stronger
- Love and respect always
- A family that plays together stays together
- Family first, always
- Embrace the journey
- Kindness is contagious
- Dream big, work hard, stay humble
- One team, one family
- Cherish the moments, treasure the memories
- Be kind, be brave, be curious
Creating a family motto was a turning point in my parenting journey. It forced me to reflect on the kind of parent I wanted to be and the values I wanted to instill in my children.
Our family motto, “We are safe, helpful, and kind” became a guiding principle in our home. It helped me to shift my focus from punishments and rewards to teaching my children to be safe and think before acting, to be helpful and responsible, and to always be kind to those around them. The family motto also gave us a common language that we could use to hold each other accountable and reinforce positive behavior. Creating a family motto has had a profound impact on my parenting and has brought our family closer together.
I hope a family motto can be an amazing tool for you as well. Tell me in the comments- what is your family motto?