There is more than one way to Teach a Character Trait

The longer I am a parent and I see the variety in my children’s personalities, weaknesses and strengths I am more and more aware that there is more than one way to do things. There is more than one way to teach, to motivate, to praise. There is more than one way to study, more than one valid subject to study. There is more than one way to serve God, to worship God, to study His word.

A month or so ago our family was having a time of review – looking back, looking forward type of thing. One of the areas that came up was the issue of order in our home. Of the five character traits we would like to be utmost in our lives, and in our home, order is the most lacking or at least the most pressing. We would like to see more order in our time and with our possessions.

So as we do, we grabbed the Character First charts and discussed order. If we want it in our life, we need to know what it is.

Orderliness is arranging myself and my surroundings
to achieve the greatest efficiency*.

We have studied this many times so I asked the kids to think of another character trait that would bring about the same result, or what was another character trait that would answer the reasons why we haven’t maintained order. After much discussion we came to the conclusion that it was a lack of dependability – we don’t do what we say we will do (in our home life). We don’t put things back where we say they belong. We don’t see our routines as a plan or commitment to ourselves – we are too flexible. So over the next little while we will be studying dependability in more depth.

Dependability is fulfilling what I consented to do,
even if it means unexpected sacrifice*.

Why Christian Parents need to be Active with Character Education

There is more than one way to address a Character issue

Can you think of something that you have been working on over and over and over and yet still not making any inroads? Maybe you need to change tack. Maybe you can ask the same question as I did – what is another character trait that would answer the reasons why we haven’t achieved?

With young children it is all too easy to make everything about obedience – and that is a key response we want from our children. But if we keep hammering that we may actually close down their hearts. Instead, we can focus on another response – maybe respect, or self-control, or enthusiasm.

If we are working on truthfulness – maybe we can pause and consider dependability, discretion or sincerity.

If we are working on responsibility – maybe we can refocus by looking at diligence, thoroughness, or endurance.

No one character based response stands by itself – they all support and blend in together.

I tell mums if they can’t figure out what to deal with focus on “Love one another” as it covers every interaction our kids have!! Even though that is true, we can start to sound like a cracked record and we justify it because the kids simply aren’t listening and they obviously need to!! This is wrong thinking on our behalf!

Remember the story of David, and how the prophet Nathan came to him and told him a story which cut to David’s heart. Nathan appealed to a value that David held – the virtue of fairness, justice, and what is right. Had Nathan come in with a story about adultery it is possible that David would have found every excuse under the sun not to hear it. There is more than one way to get to the heart of our kids.

There is more than one way to reach your child's heart. It is easy to get caught up teaching only a few common character traits but all traits work with each other to express our value system.

 Start thinking wider and deeper

So what are the issues that concern you about your heart, or about your kids’ heart today?

Ask God for wisdom.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,
who gives generously to all without reproach,
and it will be given him.
James 1:5

I have been surprised to see a connection in the Hebrew between the words wisdom and creativity – God is a creative God, He will give you insight into the heart, answers that you may not expect – just as he did for Nathan.

There is more than one way to address heart issues – if only we are prepared to listen, and change tack!

*Character definitions taken from Character First

Do you need help in your Family?

Hi! I’m Belinda

About Me

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Certified Life Coach

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Further Reading:

How to Teach Character to your Kids: Teaching our kids character is giving them heart-based life skills that will benefit them for their whole life.
Be a Thinking Parent:  For us to be the best parents we can be we need to be a thinking parent. A parent who thinks about why, how and when.
Is Good Character, at the Wrong Time, Still Good Character?  What does good character at the wrong time look like? Is it good enough?  Do our children need further training?
It is easy to get caught up teaching only a few common character traits but all traits work with each other to express our value system.
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