Teaching character each month to our children in our family time or homeschool time is a crucial part of our parenting. When we get lax, burn out, or feel like we can just float through life as parent and child together, it does not go well.
Purposeful parenting is a must. Not giving in, giving up, or giving over to the feeling that you just want to be your child’s best friend.
That being said, I’m frequently asked at the homeschool conventions we attend with Character Badges how I actually teach character to my children.
I’ve been going around my bookshelves this week, trying to pull out more resources and find anything I possibly have to teach character that I like. I’ll link to those below, but I want to share my best secret tip first.
Are you ready? Here it is:
Don’t disregard the knowledge that you have to pass onto your children. Don’t feel like the only way you can teach character to them is through a book. Sit down with them in the mornings and give them a vision of what that character quality could look like today in their home. Children need broad visions to give them an idea of what they could be when they grow up. They need to know all the accounts of how diligent and brave and obedient and honest the men and women in the scriptures were.
They need to know the history stories, of how men and women have remained valiant and determined in the face of many trials.
But they also need to know what being diligent could look like in their own home, for that specific day. They need a short term goal to shoot for, some practical way that they could exhibit that character quality you are working on.
Mom – You Are Important
The only people that know the exact vision for your home is your husband and you. I think that’s one important detail that is missing out when people teach about the importance of character training. It’s absolutely imperative to pull out all your resources, find those scripture stories that back up what you are trying to teach your children, and then talk, talk, and talk some more.
Don’t stop communicating with them what you are trying to teach them. There is a balance between lecturing to your children, and sharing with them.
Let’s say you have a child struggling with lying. You find an awesome story on how wrong lying is, you know it will interest all of your children, so you sit them down and read them the story. Don’t call your child out that struggles with lying and tell them this story is for them! Let God work on their heart and convict them in that moment. They will be more open to the message of the story and listen if they don’t feel like you are lecturing them for the umpteen time.
All that being said, I do have some good resources to share that I like using with my children! These are not scripture study books, rather they are good story type books to read during family devotions that inspire your children to obtain that good virtue that the character has in the book.
Books and More….
The Book of Virtues for Young People – go through stories on different character qualities, and read stories and poems to them from this book. It’s easy to grab and go during family time.
The Book of Virtues – This is twice the size and covers more, but if I was just starting out I would get the one for young people first.
Gaining Favor With God and Man – if you have boys this should be on their required list of reading as teens! I pick and choose little sections from it as a family read aloud. It’s definitely not for little children, but has some great truths in it for older children.
Tiger and Tom and other stories for Boys – I’ve read many stories from this book to my own boys. They are written years ago, so sometimes I have to explain a few things when they were younger. Overall it’s a book I highly recommend!
The King’s Daughter and Other Stories for Girls – the same type of book except for girls! Full of good stories written years ago, but the message of the stories never goes away.
Everyday Graces: A Child’s Book of Good Manners – Somehow this book never made it’s way into our home until recently. I LOVE this book, and highly recommend it!! I read one of the stories to all of our children and everyone found something useful in it, from our 4 year old to our 15 year old!
Finally, I would suggest getting a copy of our Character Badges Do’s and Don’ts Chart! This hangs up in our hallway closet and is a great resource to use with your children on showing them what the character quality is, what it should look like, not look like, and a scripture verse to back that up. When your child is acting up you can take them to the chart and go over the concept with them again. Help them realize it’s not just you saying this, it’s what God says in his word!
We use this along with our Character Badges charts. We track good behavior and poor behavior monthly, and our children earn these really awesome metal coins that they can save and cash in at the rewards chart (mostly for time with Mom and Dad!). Poor behavior goes on the disobedience chart which is then corrected through the consequence chart. It’s been a very helpful tool in our family!
How To Set Up The Month For Success
We sit down at the beginning of the month and tell our children what the character quality is for the month. Honestly, it’s rarely the first day of the month. Life is busy, so we try to make it happen as closest to the first of the month that we can.
Then we build their Character Badge chart for the month, using the magnetic tabs that come with it. They have the one character quality and seven habits and responsibilities to work on for the month.
After that, we study this quality in our morning time, read stories and scriptures and mention it to the children throughout the month. We praise them when we see them really working hard, and remind them of the character concept when we see them struggling.
If you would love some more practical parenting ideas, Sean and I are offering a live class on Thursday, September 12th at 1:30 PM, CST and we would love to see you there!
Bring your questions at the end, as we will have a short time for questions and answers! It’s the first time we have done a live class together, but after attending so many homeschool conventions and speaking on these issues, we really wanted to share some thoughts with you all!
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