Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Building Character In Your Children

  Image by: David Castillo Dominici,
Many parents want to instill godly character traits in their children. We want our children to be considerate, compassionate, kind, and un-selfish. However, many parents find that talking to their kids about these things is often a fruitless endeavor. In this article, I want to explore why that is, and offer some solutions that may help build character in your kids.

So how DO we build Godly character traits in our children?

Problem #1: I think the number one reason children do not exhibit godly character is because it is frequently talked about, but infrequently modeled. I know for myself, I struggle with this issue multiple times a day. I hear my kids bicker and nit-pick and I exhort them to be kind and compassionate, to be servants to one another. But by the end of the day, my gentle exhortations have become angry, snappy comments that truth be told, do no good to anyone. My kids are left feeling scolded, and I'm left feeling like a bad mom, and the bickering continues.

Solution: Building godly character in our kids starts with modeling godly character. We all know this is easier said than done, but if we really want to see change in our kids, we have to be willing to change our own behavior.

Commitment: Today, I commit myself to using a gentle voice, to guarding my tongue, and to speaking words of exhortation rather than words of destruction to my children.

Problem #2: Fervent prayer is absent from the home. Many families identify with the Christian faith, but so often frequent, fervent prayer is just not happening. We live in such a concrete world. We get so much instant, visual input. I believe this modern way of life really hampers the prayer life of many Christians. There are just so many other more visible things to do and needs to be met on a day to day basis, that something as abstract as prayer doesn't get priority in our lives.

Solution: Pray more. Pray for your children every day, not just when you're at your wits end or when they are feeling sick, or at bedtimes and mealtimes. Commit to a daily prayer time where you can get quiet before the Lord and intercede on behalf of the heart of your child. Prayer works. I fully believe that if we pray more we will see the fruit of that in the lives of our children.

Commitment: Today, I commit to finding a quiet time to pray for each of my children. Though it may be difficult to find a spare minute, I commit to making the time and lifting them up to the Lord on a daily basis.

Problem #3: Children have only a general sense of what it means to be "good", but a very deep sense of what it means to be wronged. I have found that my kids are very easily offended. An accidental touch, a sarcastic comment, an unintentional interruption, and my kids are quick to accuse one another and defend themselves. But when I ask them to be "nice" or "kind" they struggle to do it because they don't really know what it means.

Solution: I believe that teaching your children specific character traits by name (responsibility, diligence, self-respect, humility, etc) will go a long way in helping them demonstrate these positive attributes. Today my son was struggling to do his reading homework, and on the verge of giving up (read: throwing a fit). I was able to encourage him to be diligent because we had been studying that character trait for the past few weeks in our homeschool curriculum. The fact that he knew what diligence was really helped him change his actions to align with the behavior and attitude I was wanting to see from him.

Commitment: We recently started using Heart of Dakota in our homeschool, and I'm so thankful for their character trait Bible studies. Previously we had not done much character trait study, but I'm so glad we've started, and I find it to be a very valuable tool in my parenting tool box. I encourage you to find ways to incorporate character trait study into your daily routine.

I'd love to hear from you! What things have you found helpful in instilling godly character in your children?

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