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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Goals for Character Building for Our Kids

What character traits would you like to teach your children? Make them your goals. You can work on one at a time. You’ll probably have to re-teach them, but your instruction will finally stick. Here are a few examples:

Compassion—A parent teaches this best through his own non-critical, non-judgmental example. He also teaches it best through actually showing compassion and helping those who have needs. If you laugh at people who have problems, scorn the homeless, and are stingy about giving help, your children, sadly, will follow. But, if you treat handicapped and troubled people with equity and are generous with money and other practical helps, your kids will follow your good example.

Contentment—I’m sure you’ve seen a child in a store who asks for everything! “Mama, I want this,” and “Mama I want that.” (He might possibly have been yours.) There’s an easy cure. Never give him what he asks for, when he demands it with an “I want” statement. (Don’t steer kids certain ages down a toy aisle, ever!) Whisk him away from the tempting item and ignore the request. When you like, give him a gift—one he hasn’t squawked for, and when he’s not expecting anything. Eventually, you won’t have to battle a scene in stores. You’ll have a child who understands contentment.

Dependability—I can’t overemphasize this one. When children learn to be responsible in the little things, they will learn to eventually be dependable in the workplace, in marriage, and in all walks of life. Make a child accountable to you. When he is little, have him fold washcloths and make his bed. You may have to help him learn, but at about age four, he should be able to do these things passably. Bed making should be daily, and you should check to make sure it’s done. (It doesn’t have to be perfect, just done.) As the child matures, he should be depended on to do more things around the house. Obedience should be expected. When he is a teen, make sure you give him limits (like being home before dark). Make sure he obeys them. When you start when he is young, it is easy later.

Femininity and Masculinity—I’ve read that the key to a girl’s femininity and a boy’s masculinity is their father. If your child doesn’t have an involved father, make sure he has another male role model (uncle, grandfather, etc.) who spends time with him. It will make a difference!

Forgiveness—God forgave us, therefore we forgive others. Be the example. Forgive those who do you wrong, whatever the offense. When your kids have spats, ask the guilty party to ask for forgiveness, and ask the offended party to give forgiveness. It’s important for children to learn how to ask for forgiveness and receive it.

Gratitude—Make sure your kids always say “thank you” for anything given to them. This habit, which is so easy to teach, develops into thankfulness.

Honesty—We need to teach our kids to be truthful. Help them understand the difference between lying and telling the truth. As they get older, talk to them about the difficult ethical choices, like if it’s ever okay to tell a lie. (It isn’t!) Honesty is also about cheating (including in games) and ethics in business. As your children mature, talk to them naturally about news items or situations that come up. Help them to understand honest, ethical conduct.

Humility—I believe each child needs your encouragement, to know that Mom and Dad believe in him and love him. But, as children get older, some get cocky and begin to act like the world revolves around them. These are the kids that need a dose of reality. I do not think that it’s our business as parents to take them down a peg or to be critical. It is better if they’re enabled to see themselves as they are—a part of a whole. An accurate perspective comes from seeing God as great and self as small. Help your child by exposing him to teamwork—in the family, on a sports team, or as part of a youth group that helps others. When he sees himself as one piece rather than the whole thing, he will have a more realistic and healthy attitude.

Kindness—The Bible says, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). I used to quote my own “Mommy’s Version” which was, according to the situation, “And be ye kind one to your brother (or mother, sister . . .) tenderhearted, forgiving your brother (or mother, sister . . .) even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” My kids used to laugh at the misquoting, but they got the message. The Bible also says we should be kind to animals. A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Proverbs 12:10). Children should be taught to be kind to their pets and any other animals they find—lizards, snakes, and insects included—and not intentionally inflict pain on them. (I’m talking about torturing animals for fun, like pulling the wings off of flies, cutting lizards’ tails off, tormenting cats and dogs, etc. I’m not talking about never killing an animal in order to eat it or in self-defense. God gave us meat to eat ever since the Flood, and it’s just plain stupid not to shoot an attacking grizzly! It’s okay to swat flies and kill mosquitos, too!)

Respect—Insist on respectful talk to everyone. Teach good table manners and other etiquette. Show children how to respect their parents, brothers, sisters, and classmates. You teach respect for authorities (police, government, teachers, pastor) by example. Never let a child get away with sassing or contradicting his parents or other adults. Make sure you don’t allow them to make fun of someone who is different. (That might include someone who is obese, handicapped, a dwarf, dirty, a different skin color from them, or uniquely dressed.) Teach your children to respect those who have obvious difficulties. Expose your children to nursing homes where they can meet people in wheelchairs and using walkers. (Elderly people love to see children; your kids will brighten their day.)

Self-Discipline—Teaching self-discipline starts at home and very young, around three years old. Children should have age-appropriate responsibilities in your home and should be expected to carry them out. They should do their homework on time and well. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with temper tantrums—at any age. They should be encouraged to have their own personal devotions when they are old enough to do so. Also, when children are older, they should obey your limits to the letter. This is how they will learn to discipline themselves.

  • Ask the Lord for help as you teach your children to have godly character. (More on how a parent prays in a post to come.)

*Most of these character traits are found in my book, His Ways, Your Walk.


  1. Those are all wonderful goals, and lifelong projects.

    1. Oh yes, Rome wasn't built in a day. Teach, re-teach, and pray the whole time. God bless you, Barbara!


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