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

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