You have the chance of a lifetime … the privilege to shape and mold your child’s character! You don’t have many years to do it either. Developing character is an ongoing endeavor and not something you can teach them about once. We have to be intentional in times like these, because our society makes it more and more difficult to instill these important qualities in our kids. With the internet, television and social media spewing all manner of inappropriateness, we are working against the societal grain.
We live in exciting times that point us to emerging research that confirms what I’ve always believed. When it comes to predicting our kids’ success in life, more important than intelligence is their character.
- Can they self-regulate, handle disappointment and persevere?
- Do they tend to have a more positive outlook on life, are they kind, caring, respectful and so on?
I happen to think that many parents today are way too focused on grades, performance, competition and scholarship possibilities more than they are in helping their kids become good humans with a strong moral compass. By the way, the spin-off of all that pressure is causing unnecessary anxiety in our children.
The optimal time to help our kids and teach them these all-important skills is during their preschool years, so start early. And, get this, during those early years it’s through play that they learn the best!
Having said that, let’s talk about what we can do to help them.
- The first place to look is us. Are we modeling and living out fairness, compassion, respectfulness, honesty, love and patience or any other character quality that is important to you. Children first begin to learn about virtues from us, so we determine which traits our kids will see modeled.
- It’s not enough for them to just see us live out the virtues we want them to espouse. We need to be positive and encouraging when we catch them exhibiting moral behavior. Bring it to their attention. Tell them you noticed how fair they played that board game. As we know, if we want repeat behavior, we give them the positive attention it deserves.
- Teach them to serve others. Involve your family in community service activities. Churches offer many opportunities to serve and you could also show them what it’s like to be available for family and friends when they need a little help.
- It’s advisable to let your sweet things struggle and even fail at times. Just think, they will get opportunities to practice managing frustrations and failures because we know that life is full of disappointments. This is one of the ways they become strong and resilient. Sell them on the idea that with effort they can improve. When they are struggling with grasping a new concept, say multiplication, encourage them as they practice until the light bulb comes on. Self-esteem and confidence is the result.
- Identify their strengths and bring them to their attention. Let her know you noticed she extended forgiveness to someone that was really mean to her or that he was so patient with his annoying younger brother as he was learning a new game.
A thought to hold on to and be hopeful about … the fruits of your labor and diligence in modeling and teaching these skills will probably not be evidenced right away. You will likely see this much later and it might not be until your child is in adulthood. But don’t give up. Have faith that many kids eventually espouse the virtues your family values.
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There’s Always Hope,