Wednesday, September 26, 2012

10 Ways to Play with Your Kids

When I was preschool-age, my mother used to have tea parties with me and my two siblings. We didn't drag her to the table and then direct her on where to sit and what pretend food and beverage she was consuming. No, my mom would spontaneously show up in our playroom, not as mom, but as the character Penelope Wiliford. (Don't ask me where the name came from). She would loudly announce herself in a funny, British-type accent and invite us all to tea. She was so in character that we didn't dare call her "Mom." Sometimes it was just invisible tea and crumpets on our plastic picnic table, and other times she pretended that our regular afternoon snack had transformed into delicacies of royal caliber. We laughed and giggled and played and had so much fun. Those tea parties with Penelope are some of my most cherished childhood memories, and it is something that my siblings and I reminisce about often when we are together.

I was so blessed to have a mother that was exceptionally talented at all things home related. She is a fabulous cook, and I have copied her recipes often. She was a meticulous housekeeper, and I have held my home to the same standards (most of the time). She taught us all to read before we started kindergarten and made sure we had a solid foundation of faith. Both of those are goals that I work diligently to meet. Despite having three children within a 3 1/2 year time period, she remained charitable and did a great deal of volunteer work and outreach. I have attempted to emulate my mother in so many ways. So how have I forgotten how much importance she placed on playing with us?

I guess I forgot. I got busy. I became the constant caregiver, cleaner and cook, and never really became the playmate. And I really want that to change. I don't want my kids to look back and only remember how clean their house was, how good their meals were, and how much their mommy taught them. Those are all good things. But I want my kids to look back on their childhood and remember how much fun I was too!

10 Ways to Play With Your Kids
  1. Build block towers and then knock them over.
  2. Turn off all the lights and have a "Flashlight Battle," pretending the beam from the flashlight is the blade of a sword or light saber.
  3. Finger paint with them.
  4. Take them to the park, get on the swings, and swing alongside them instead of just pushing them.
  5. Build an indoor tent out of sheets and camp out.
  6. Break out the play-dough, and let your kids suggest what you should make.
  7. Get into whatever they are in to. (In my house, this means donning a Darth Vader mask or pirate hat.)
  8. Have a Nerf gun or water gun fight.
  9. In the summer, have a pool jumping contest. Jump into the pool in different ways (ex. cannon ball, belly flop) and then have your kid copy you. This is extra fun if you have "judges" to decide who had better form.
  10. Have a tea party, and really get into it!
This post is linked up to these awesome parties:

Monday, September 24, 2012

10 Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Husband (On the Cheap)

In keeping with my "10 Ways" posts that have been so popular, here are some of my favorite, inexpensive, quality time ideas. Please also check out my posts 10 Ways to Serve Your Spouse and 10 Ways to Encourage Your Husband With Words.

In my life, with two young children as well as my mother and my best friend all under one roof, finding quality time with my guy can be pretty challenging. Often, by the time we have a few minutes alone, we just want to veg out in front of the tv or sleep. It's sad, but true. Yet, quality time is so important to the health of my marriage. Without connecting in a quality way, my husband and I risk becoming distant from one another. We could easily get so caught up in the necessary tasks of our everyday life that we become more like roommates or business partners than a married couple.

When you add financial limitations to a full schedule, quality time can seem impossible. So, here are my ten favorite ideas for spending quality time with your spouse on a budget. Many are free, and the others are pretty inexpensive.These aren't all necessarily "dates" but could definitely work as a date-night activity.

  1. Go to a drive-in type restaurant, get a milkshake, sit in the car, and talk.
  2. Take a walk through your neighborhood without the kids.
  3. Go sightseeing in your own town. Research historic sites that are free or cheap to visit.
  4. Take a picnic to a local park.
  5. Play board games, cards, or dominoes together after the kids are asleep.
  6. Go to a restaurant, order an appetizer, and talk.
  7. Look through your old photo albums or watch home movies together.
  8. Bring him lunch at work (home made or take-out) and then eat it with him at his office.
  9. Work on a project together, like yard work or washing your cars.
  10. Go ice skating! (our area has an indoor rink that is open year-round and is really inexpensive)
Any other ideas? What do you do to sneak in some extra quality time with your honey?

Linked up at

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Best Chili in the Universe

This really is the best chili in the me anyway. I have tried a billion gazillion variations of this formula, but I always go back to this one. It is great for the slow cooker, but you can simmer it on the stove too. And as you can see in the photo, it is good on everything. I serve it on hot dogs, over fries or tots, and on top of a bed of corn chips. I have also melted it into Velveeta for a yummy dip. I often freeze the leftovers in single portion sizes to pull out for lunch on a cool or rainy day. It is a fall favorite! I make it a lot on game days, it is a perfect football companion.


  • 1 pound ground turkey 
  • 1 package original chili seasoning
  • 1 package spicy chili seasoning
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • 1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans Rotel with liquid
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • toppings: diced raw onion, sliced green onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, saltine crackers, corn chips, hot sauce (like Texas Pete), Sriracha (we like it hot around here)
Brown ground turkey in skillet with diced onion. While the meat is browning, rinse all of your beans. Combine meat with remaining ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for at least 4 hours. Even though everything is already cooked, allowing the mix to simmer for awhile really melds all those delicious flavors.

I should note that I think I originally saw this recipe on Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee but it's hard to be sure, since I have been making it for like six years.

This post is linked up at the following super fun linky parties:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Ways to Encourage Your Husband With Words

Therefore, encourage each other and strengthen one another as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Last week I wrote a post about serving your spouse. You can read that post here. To date, it is my most read, most shared, and most talked about post. In fact, it has been viewed more than all my other posts combined. This week I am hoping to expand on that idea and give you ten ways to encourage your husband with your words. Men don't tend to be as wordy as women, and yet a man shines when he is praised verbally. I have heard it said that you multiply your praise by the number of people that hear you praising. So, if it is natural and genuine, saying these things to your husband in the presence of others will amplify the effect they have on him. I also sometimes write a short affirmation on a sticky note and stick it on the bottom of his lunch box. He doesn't have to pick it up and unfold it (and face ridicule and jokes from his co-workers), he can simply read it as he is taking out his lunch items.

A word of caution: As a woman, I can tend to do these things with the expectation that they will be reciprocated. I can easily fall into the trap of thinking I have been encouraging him and building him up all week, but he hasn't said a nice thing to me! That is not the goal here. Don't plant that seed of resentment in your heart! It will taint everything that you do for or say to your husband! And don't say things that you do not genuinely mean. If you read one of these affirmations and think That is so not my husband! Don't fake it. He will know that you are insincere. Rather, think of ways that you can genuinely affirm him, and pray about your perception of him in the areas where you think he is failing.

10 Ways to Encourage Your Husband With Words

  1. Thank you for going to work every day and providing so well for us.
  2. You are so good with the kids!
  3. You make me laugh!
  4. You really have a talent for ________.
  5. You look good in that.
  6. You smell good.
  7. You are so thoughtful.
  8. Thanks for keeping a level head when I am freaking out. You really keep me grounded.
  9. You are really smart. (variations: good with our finances, have a great memory, know so much about _____.)
  10. I respect you.
I would love for you to share an affirmation that really makes your husband shine! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Inspiring Great Character III: Thoughts on Obedience

This is Part 3 in my series on character, click to read Part I and Part II.

I have received a lot of questions on obedience and how to teach it. I would like to start this post with a disclaimer:

I am not a parenting expert.
I do not have any fancy degrees to support my theories.
My kids are not perfectly obedient.
I don't know your kid and I can't guarantee what will work for them.
So don't send me any hate mail if you see my son behaving poorly at a play date. It's all a work in progress, people!

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I would love to elaborate on obedience. 

Let's start by talking about disobedience. What is is really? In my house, disobedience occurs when a child willfully and knowingly rebels against what they have been instructed. As the parent, we have to be sure that we are clear our expectations and consistent in our reactions.

On Saturday my little Man-Cub opened a bottle of nail polish sideways and it glugged out all over his hands, feet and my couch. While the whole situation was pretty frustrating, he was not disobeying. He had never been told "Don't open nail polish." Was it poor behavior? Yes. But it was not willful disobedience, it was simply one of the learning experiences that goes with childhood.

So what do you do in one of these situations? Take it through a series of questions, then react.
  1. Have I instructed my child against this behavior?
  2. If yes, was I clear about my expectations?
  3. If yes to 1 and 2, have the natural consequences served as sufficient correction?

If the situation doesn't pass through question one or two, the behavior was probably just a "kid thing." I can't ignore it or condone it, but it requires teaching and correcting, not discipline.
If the behavior does pass through questions one and two, it requires teaching, correcting and then (if the answer to question 3 is "no") discipline.
The natural consequence often does the job of discipline. A completely extreme example would be; You tell your child not to touch the stove burner. They disobey you and touch it anyway. They are now in pain from being burned. You spank them and scream at them. The spanking and screaming are not necessary, the natural consequence of the burn taught the lesson that you needed it to.

So how can I teach my child to obey?
I have to teach him what obedience is, and why it is important. 

Obey means that "I listen and I do it!" (clap hands when you say "do it!")
Teach this little phrase to your kids. Practice it with them. Ask them frequently "what does 'obey' mean?" And remind them to be obedient. An example would be saying "Man-Cub, Mommy needs you to pick up those blocks. Please obey me. What does obey mean?" (wait for response) "Great! Now, what did I ask you to do? Thanks for obeying me!"

The WHY:
I always try to explain why obedience is important. "Mommy and Daddy are the boss around here. We all  have to do what our bosses say. Everything we tell you to do is important. We ask you to obey us because we know what is best for you, we love you, and we want you to grow up to be the awesome person we know you can be."

After my kid learned the basic definition of obedience and was pretty clear on the importance of obeying, I needed to teach him how to obey. I addressed this a little bit in Part II. I taught him the little rhyme Obey right away!
Instant obedience is crucial to my sanity.
I remind him to be joyful when he is obeying. Keep a happy attitude!
And now, we are working on being thorough in our obedience. Do the very best you can!

Like I said before, it's all a work in progress. We have multiple instances of disobedience in our home every day. But I can feel good about the fact that we are working on it. I can't just hope that when he is a little older, or a little more mature, all of these character qualities will just fall into place. Good character does not come naturally, it has to be taught. So keep on teaching it diligently!

I love comments! Please share what you do to teach character or a story about obedience, I would love to hear it!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

10 Ways to Be Content

I was putting away groceries today when I started meditating on the concept of contentedness. Why is it so difficult to be content with what we have? Everyone I know is discontent about something. Maybe it's their marriage, their home, or their car. Maybe it's their job or the amount of money they make. Maybe they can't quite put their finger on it, but they recognize the restlessness of discontentedness. 

At first, I felt pretty good about this area of my life. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is a spirit of discontent lurking within my heart. I asked myself this question:

"If nothing about my life ever changed, would I be okay with that?"

Would I be fine with keeping this house, this car, and this yearly income? Would I be okay with never having any more children, any new furniture, or making any improvements to my home? If I never gained any more social status or earned any more praise or accolades, would it matter to me?

The truth is, the answer is no. I look forward to adding more children to our family, someday purchasing a bigger and nicer home, and my husband and I dream shop for my next car almost daily. I watch HGTV and daydream about all the home improvements we could do, and how much of my home decor I would like to replace. Maybe that doesn't mean that I am discontent, but it certainly doesn't depict a person that is perfectly content either. I think that the key to deciphering whether my goals and dreams boil down to discontent is whether those hopes and dreams keep me from enjoying what I have right now.

Am I so focused on getting a new car that I look with disdain upon the car I currently own?
Do I covet other homes and home decor to the point that it causes me to dislike the home that I have?
Am I obsessing over the idea of having future children and not appreciating the ones that are in my arms?

The apostle Paul said:

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 
Philippians 4:11-12

Am I displaying contentment in whatever circumstance I am in? Or am I looking for the next best thing, the bigger, better, more abundant life that is surely around the bend? I am starting to feel that contentment is something to practice diligently. I hope that as I learn to be more content in what I have and who I am, that the joy of that contentment shines through.

Here are 10 ways that I brainstormed on how to practice contended living:
  1. Write in a "gratitude journal" frequently.
  2. Thank God for what you have.
  3. Avoid situations, people and TV shows that cause you to feel discontent.
  4. Help out those that have less than you.
  5. Memorize Philippians 4:11-12 and recite it to yourself.
  6. Stop comparing your life to the lives of those around you.
  7. Make simplicity your new mantra.
  8. Read stories about historical people groups that have done without (Israelites in the wilderness, Pilgrims, American Pioneers, and many more.)
  9. Fast from a certain item for a set amount of time. This will almost surely make you appreciate it when you bring it back into your life (examples are TV, junk food, or shopping)
  10. Take a missions trip to a third-world country. Seeing how most of the world lives makes us so much more content with the life we live.
I personally need to remember the lessons on contentedness that I learned on a trip to Nicaragua in 2009, as well as the personal stories of many long-term missionaries I know. It is not easy to be content in the U.S. With a new model of every car each year, a hot new iSomething every 6 months, and the constant parade of excess in the media, we are conditioned to believe that if you aren't looking down from the top you should be looking up at those on top calculating how to get up there. Let's say no to all that, and start living the contented life!

Nicaragua 2009

This blog post was linked up at The More the Merrier Monday

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The "TA-DA" List

We all have a "To Do" list, right?
Maybe it is a running mental checklist that you add to and subtract from as you accomplish things.
Maybe it is real, pen-and-paper list that you scratch items off of.
My "To Do" list is on the dry erase section of my awesome 31 Gifts  Hang Up Organizer.
I love this thing, it has transformed the bar in my kitchen, which was once used as a storage site for all the miscellaneous mail and coupons and stuff. Now I have this fantastic product hanging on the door of my pantry, holding said miscellaneous papers. But the absolute best part of this organizer is that white section that you see in the top right corner. That, my friends, is a dry erase area. I have also added cardstock into the other clear plastic pocket in the center, and I also use that as a dry erase area. 
In the middle section goes my everyday "To Do" list. I love to see my accomplishments in front of me, so checking things off a list is really appealing. My list has everything from make coffee to dust & vaccuum to what is for dinner that night.
But this post isn't about the "To Do" list, this post is about the TA-DA List.
The TA-DA list goes on that upper dry erase section. There is no pressure to do things on the TA-DA list. I could go for a week or more without so much as looking at it. But when I actually do one of the things on that list, it feels awesome! 
So what is on this list? The TA-DA list includes household tasks that won't make or break our day, but that would be really nice to get done. These are not seasonal in nature, they have no time frame, and they can range from a 5 minute task to a day-long project.
Currently on my TA-DA List:
  • Purge and organize DVDs
  • Purge and organize under the kitchen sink
  • Go through pantry (donate food we aren't eating)
  • Clean the oven
  • Clean the microwave
  • Purge and organize under the bathroom sinks
  • Dust ceiling fans
  • Purge kid's toys (donate what they aren't playing with)
  • Match all food storage containers with their lids 
  • Clean out the "junk drawer"
Some things that I have accomplished since starting the TA-DA List include cleaning out the closet in the master bedroom (that was a full-day project!), sorting through and purging all of last year's papers, purging the Girl-Child's wardrobe of clothes that don't fit, cleaning the top of my refrigerator, and dusting all of the decorative items on the tops of my kitchen cabinets.
Some days I just feel like tackling a project. Other weeks  days I just don't. And that is okay. Because there is no time limit or deadline, I can do these things when I feel like it. But because they are written down in front of me, it's a lot more likely that they will get done than not.
What's on your TA-DA List?

This post was neither sponsored by nor solicited from 31 Gifts. I just really, really love their stuff. If you are interested in purchasing a Hanging Organizer or just want more information on the company and their products, I highly recommend my dear friend and 31 consultant Lauren Hoffman. She rocks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

10 Ways to Serve Your Spouse

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9:35

Let me begin this by saying that having a servant's heart is not my strongest area. Not at all. But, like anyone, I can grow and change, and I have such a strong desire to become more of a servant in every area of my life. So today I sat down and tried to think of ten ways to serve my man. Some are things that I already do, and many are things that I would like to do more often. The trick here is to not say "Hey, hey! I am serving you here! How awesome am I?" 

  1. Brew the coffee, then fix him a cup just the way he likes it.
  2. Wake up with him in the morning and read to him from Proverbs while he shaves/dresses.
  3. Fold his clothes and then actually put them away.
  4. Cook for him, and then plate his food nicely.
  5. Buy him new personal care items before his are empty.
  6. Find a reason to borrow his car, then wash it and fill up the tank.
  7. Iron something you know he probably wouldn't have, like his jeans or work shirt.
  8. Hand him the remote and then don't complain about the programming he chooses.
  9. Make special snacks during his sports game and bring them to him so he doesn't miss anything.
  10. Here is a big one....and I will shamelessly toot my own horn here: mow the grass. Yes, I said it, mow the grass. Do it while he is at work and don't act too wiped out when he gets home. Trust me ladies, they love this. Absolutely love it. I'm not saying that you should take on all yard work until the end of time in the interest of serving your husband. I'm just saying that if you want to see a man surprised, impressed, and appreciative, then crank up that mower and get to work.
What have you done to serve your spouse? How did he react?

Linked to Works for Me Wednesdays over at We Are That Family.

also linked up on Sundae Scoop at I heart NapTime

Love Bakes  Good Cakes
and also at Love Bakes Good Cakes

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Inspiring Great Character Part II: The Top Ten

This probably should have been Part I...but it isn't. You can read Part I here.

There are many, many fantastic character qualities that we should be instilling in our children daily. The Duggar family [who I absolutely adore] has a very thorough chart that is downloadable in PDF form here, which includes a Bible verse  that corresponds with each quality, as well as each operational definition. Some of the definitions that they use are a little bit over the head of my man-cub, and that is why I have created my own, preschooler-friendly definitions that I use with him.

In my opinion, the most practical and simplest way to teach your child a character quality is to first teach them the definition, then practice the application. You could do this with one quality per month, as we do, or focus on one until your child has mastered it most of the time. There are always opportunities to practice good character, and some are easier than others. You know your kid. I know that my son will start to rebel if I harp on one topic for too long.

I deeply believe that the very first character qualities a child should learn and practice are obedience and self-control. These qualities cover a multitude of situations. I also like them because they can be applied to daily life with Mommy and Daddy as well as the child's relationship with God. We discuss and practice the definitions and applications of these two qualities almost every day, and then incorporate others based on the season or a particular situation we are facing. So, for example, November is a great time to practice gratitude and December would be great for generosity.

The following are my Top Ten favorite character qualities to teach my children, along with the simple, kid-friendly operational definitions that I use, and (when applicable) anything else that I have used to help teach that particular quality (such as a rhyme or practice game).

1. OBEDIENCE: "I listen and I do it!"
 -a rhyme that we recite often is "Obey right away!" and I clap my hands abruptly during the "right away"        part of the rhyme.
    -to expand on this idea you could teach the 3 Rules of Obedience: obeying joyfully, quickly and thoroughly
    -there are several ways to practice obedience as a game, but the easiest is just to pump your child up about the "Obey Game" and remind them how to obey instantly and with a good attitude. Then give them simple tasks to obey, such as "Walk to the front door, touch it, and then walk back to me." You could add multiple steps to each instruction based on the age and attention span of the child. Don't forget the praise after they complete the task!

2. SELF-CONTROL: "I do what I am supposed to do, not what I want to do."
-we learned Galatians 5:22-23 as our memory verse as we were focusing on self-control.
     -I find it helpful to prepare man-cub in advance of situations that will require self-control. I explain the situation we are approaching in as much detail as possible, and then we discuss examples of good self-control in that situation and what types of behavior would not be using self-control. This was huge when we went in for his 4 year old shots!

3. ATTENTIVENESS: "I show respect for others by paying close attention to what they say."
 -Attentiveness and it's definition are a bit lengthy and difficult to say. We have shortened it to "Pay attention! Look and listen!" (point to eyes and ears while saying "look and listen" portion). At this point, when attentiveness is required, I can just say "Pay attention..." and he finishes the rest of the rhyme.

4. JOYFULNESS: "I show a happy attitude, no matter what!"

5. GRATITUDE (THANKFULNESS): "I am thankful for what I am given."
 -A phrase growing in popularity that we use a lot around here is "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!"
       -We discuss this a LOT around birthdays and Christmas, but also anytime that he gets the "I want" syndrome. This may not be appropriate for every child, depending on maturity level, but we recently showed man-cub photos of orphans in third-world countries that live in garbage dumps. We talked about how little so many people in the world have and we also talked about how much we have. This was a good time to talk about needs vs. wants.

6. GENEROSITY: "I have so much, I am happy to share what I have with others."
-This year we are planning to focus a lot of our attention and energy on generous giving at holiday time. Take your child shopping for Operation Christmas Child or an Angel Tree. Involve them in going through their old toys and donating the things they do not use. Make blessing bags to give to homeless, and even take them to a soup kitchen to serve (if age appropriate). We want to focus on being generous with our time, resources and energy, but even small lessons on sharing with their friends can be lessons in generosity. I really try to remind man-cub that everything we have comes from God, so we do not have the right to be greedy with what we have.

7. RESOURCEFULNESS: "I make the best of everything that God has given me."
 -The best way that I can think to teach this quality is to let your children see you be resourceful. Maybe by fixing something that is broken instead of throwing it out. Explain to them that you are doing that to be resourceful. Or maybe they can help you upcycle something old into something new and useful. Even if your kids are hanging out with you while you cook dinner or do the grocery shopping, talk to them about being resourceful in your use of ingredients. This can be a hard concept to distinguish from thriftiness, but since they are both great qualities for your kids to know, don't worry if the lines are little blurry on these two.
      -I saw a plaque somewhere (probably on Pinterest) that said "Use it up, wear it out, make it last...or do without." What a great little motto for resourcefulness!

8. SERVANT ATTITUDE: "I am willing to help others, even when it isn't exactly what I want to be doing"
 -The idea of serving others even when it inconveniences us or interferes with our preferences is a difficult one, even for adults. But it is this attitude that distinguishes the true follower of Christ. I am constantly trying to think up ways for my whole family to develop more servant-like character. Again, I think that this is best done by example. Letting my child see me giving up my personal time and preferences for the service of others is the way he will learn that service is a joy not a chore.

9. FORGIVENESS: "I forgive others even if they don't ask for it or seem to deserve it"
 -We implement this simply by incorporating the phrase "I forgive you." into our resolutions with each other and with our kids. When anyone in this house apologizes for anything, the response should be a sincere, enthusiastic "I forgive you!" Additionally, we try to remember to ask for forgiveness in our apologies to one another. We really want the atmosphere of our home to one where people are quick to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.

10. LOVE {the big one!} "I treat others the same way I want to be treated."
 -I really try to teach (and remind myself) that love is supposed to be selfless and unconditional. There are no asterisks next to Jesus' command to love one another. This love goes beyond tolerance and beyond our families and social circles. Whoa. Huge. The undertaking of teaching your child to love everyone selflessly and unconditionally is one that would scare any reasonable person. And as always, it starts with us.

There are so many more character qualities that can and should be taught to our kids. There are so many, many more ways to teach and apply each that are listed here. I am not seeking to elevate these above others, these are just my main focus for now. I also find these the easiest to grasp at his age. Qualities like sincerity, virtue, and trustworthiness may be a bit over his head for now. And that's okay. The time will come. I really hope that at least one of my ideas inspired you. I also would love to hear what qualities you find most important and how you like to teach and practice them!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Inspiring Great Character Part I: Speak It and Make It True

I have been thinking a lot about character education these days. It is my greatest desire to train my children to be the best possible people they can be; the people that God made them to be. In an effort to be more consistent in my blogging, I decided to create a series of posts about the principles that I am implementing toward the goal of complete and thorough character education.

Today I am focusing on something that I have done without much thought or consistency until recently, and that is speaking the character that I desire to my children and about my children. I am naturally a talker. If you know me, you know that I verbalize everything. So it is not uncommon for me to say "You are such a good helper, please come to the car to help mommy carry in groceries" or "Thanks so much for playing with your sister, such a good big brother you are." I have always naturally affirmed good behavior, so now I am more purposefully making the effort to speak character qualities to my son before he actually achieves them. So it might look like this:

"Man-Cub, I know that you are very mature and you are so capable of having self-control when you are at the doctors office today, isn't that right? Mommy believes in you, and I know that you are going to do great!"

So, rather than waiting for him to act up and then reminding him of the character quality of self-control, I am helping him plan to be self-controlled and affirming that he can do it and I believe in him. The same would go for any character quality that needs to be implemented in any given situation. Another example might be:

"I know that you are a generous boy, and you are going to be so good at sharing your toys when your friends come over!"
"I know that I can trust you to be a good leader. I can't wait to see the good example that you are going to show your sister in the store today!"

These are just a few examples of how you can speak character quality to your children, but what about speaking it about your children? I have heard it said that you multiply your praise by the number of people around when you are praising your children. So it may be as simple as thanking your child for good character in the presence of others. You could also tell a story of positive character in front of your child. I have personally chosen to "report" to Daddy all of the ways that my son displayed good character each night at dinner. So often, as soon as a father arrives home he is bombarded with all of the misbehavior that has accumulated over the course of the day. How refreshing for both father and child to get to hear all about all of the ways the child succeeded in a day! How encouraging for the child! He or she will want to do even better the next day, if only for the look on his parent's faces that night at supper as the character report is given.

I am a big believer in speaking positives so that they will happen. When we say it, we believe it, and when our children believe that they can be people of good character, they will do it! Stay tuned for more practical ways to teach character qualities, as well as a list of character qualities we are focusing on.

I always love to hear your thoughts! What are some situations where you have spoken positively to the character of your children and how did they respond?

Linked up on Weekend Warmth over at Western Warmth