The Nine Noble Virtues in the Home
(Part 1 of 3).
The NNV are: courage, truth, fidelity, self-reliance, industriousness, hospitality, honor, discipline, and perseverance. Some of these concepts are a little bit lofty for younger kids, and abstract concepts like “honor” are difficult to explain. This is the article I started with, it has each virtue explained in fairly simple terms. I would say that no kid is too young to hear about the NNV, but children under 5 years old are likely to have a hard time understanding a lot of it. Try focusing on one virtue at a time, and make it an ongoing conversation you have with your kids.
I am going to offer a few suggestions for teaching each virtue individually and making it a part of your household, but first I want to discuss ways to encourage your children to display these qualities daily. I want to point out that I said “encourage,” because that is the best way to create lasting and lifelong habits. I’m not going to tell anyone how to raise their kids because I know there are many different parenting styles, and that’s great. I am, however, going to suggest that when you are teaching the NNV to a child, you focus more on positive reinforcement for displaying those qualities and not punishments for failing to do so. This is going to make everything more fun and create better memories. These are difficult concepts to grasp when you are young, and they are going to take time to really show as character traits.
1) The “I Caught You Being Good Jar”
I found this and knew right away it was a great tool for teaching the NNV. Basically, you need a mason jar and a bag of cotton balls. Every time you see one of your kids displaying a behavior you wish to encourage, you put a cotton ball in the jar. When the jar gets filled, the kids get a reward of some kind. Maybe a trip to see a movie, or a new game, it all depends on your child. You could get a big jar, and fill it with beads instead of cotton balls for a bigger reward (such as a trip to a theme park). Or use pennies and it will help pay for the tickets! Or, you can always keep it simple with a trip to get ice cream (or frozen yogurt).
You can modify the idea to work for your family (and budget), but I think it’s a great reward system. Make a big deal of every cotton ball you add, your kids will love it. You can decorate the jar and give it a prominent place in your home for added impact.
I know a lot of people have come down on “positive parenting,” things like everyone gets a trophy, there are no losers, etc. This is NOT that. There is no harm in rewarding good behavior, in fact it is a great way to build your child’s confidence.
2) Hard work is its own reward
Another form of positive reinforcement is to simply point out the benefits of your child’s actions. If they brush their teeth without being prompted (self-reliance), tell them that they will have healthy teeth if they do that everyday. If your kids are generous to their friends (hospitality), tell them that they will always have friends because they treat them well. If they tell the truth about who broke the lamp, point out that the issue will be much easier to resolve because they were honest.
This is a simple thing to add in our day to day conversations with our kids, but I feel it will make a lasting impression on our children as they grow. Every time you tell them why their actions are good, you are showing them you are proud of them. And more importantly, that they should be proud of themselves.
Teaching the NNV (in no particular order)
This is one of the easier virtues to grasp. It is defined as: the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests : hospitable treatment
: the activity of providing food, drinks, etc. for people who are the guests or customers of an organization
Explaining this to children can include examples such as: bringing treats for the classroom to share, entertaining friends for a sleepover, not playing video games or being on your phone when you visit grandma, etc. I include being a good guest as part of my hospitality lessons.
This can be related to the lore in the many stories of Odin wandering and visiting people in disguise. It is always good to tell stories of the Gods, so never miss an opportunity.
For a more serious lesson for older children, consider going to a local soup kitchen to donate food or your time. Let your children see you being kind and generous to the less fortunate, it will demonstrate the notion of hospitality even better for them.
The next time they want to have a friend over, turn it into an exercise of hospitality. Tell them that THEY will be the host. Make decisions about dinner and how they will spend their time for the evening beforehand, but allow them to do most of the planning.
Look for the next four NNV in part 2!
If you are familiar with Asatru, you have probably come across the Nine Noble Virtues (NNV) somewhere in your reading. They are a set of nine traits that most Asatruar use as guidelines to aspire towards. I say most, because there are many Asatruar/Odinists/Heathens who DO NOT recognize the NNV as a part of our faith. This is because the NNV were part of the reconstruction in the 70’s, and not the faith our ancient predecessors practiced. That is fine, I’m not saying you have to include them in your home or practice. That being said, I am quite fond of the NNV personally and I think they are fantastic lifelong lessons for our children. I think that most people would recognize the value in these traits, whether they were Heathen or not.