Saturday, May 8, 2010

Teaching Character in the Home -- Step 4: Recognizing

I don't know about you, but I've enjoyed my focus on character this week.  The past few days we've discussed:

The next aspect of teaching character that I want to discuss is learning to recognize various character qualities in action.

One way to do this is to study how each character quality is displayed in the world around us.  We know from Romans 1:20 that God's character and attributes can be seen clearly in His creation.

Many times we are oblivious to this -- either because we are ignorant about the habits of various creatures, or because we are ignorant about the attributes of God.   When it comes to seeing God's character displayed in His creation, there is nothing that compares with the Character Sketches books published by IBLP.  These come in three volumes, and explore how various character qualities are revealed in the world of nature, as well as in the pages of scripture.  They are also beautifully illustrated and provide an excellent vehicle for the detailed study of various animals.

Another aspect of recognizing character is learning to be alert to the manifestations of the various character qualities (or their opposites) in situations we encounter throughout the day.  When out and about with our children, we have many opportunities to discuss situations that occur and encourage them to discern what character qualities were shown (or not shown) by sales clerks, disgruntled customers, police officers, children in a store, people waiting in line, drivers, and so on. 

Of course, we don't want to do this in a judgmental way, but simply to teach our children what various character qualities look like in action, and what the consequences are when they are demonstrated and when they are not.  The best way to really make our character instruction stick is to take advantage of such teachable moments.

We can also do this with our children by requiring them to keep a character journal.  I did this for a period of time; however, it was one of those good ideas that eventually fell by the wayside.  Recently, one of my older daughters shared with me how she vividly remembered a time when she did not show responsiblity, and the problem it caused!  At that time, I had five young children and it was her responsibility to pack and/or check the diaper bag before we went on an outing or an errand.  We were all excited about going to the brand new library in our town, and even though I reminded her of her job, she said she got busy playing and failed to prepare the diaper bag.  While we were enjoying the lovely new library, the baby had a "blow out" and it was everywhere (including on the brand new carpet at the library!).  I was not a very happy mama when I discovered that the diaper bag was EMPTY!  Not a diaper or wipe in sight!  I had to attempt to clean the baby and the brand new carpet  with wet paper towels from the bathroom, and we had to leave the library early with red faces and a bare-bottomed baby!!!!  When we got home, I made my daughter write about this incident in her character journal.  Apparently, that cemented it in her memory, because I had long since forgotten this incident, until she reminded me about it.  She said it has been a lasting lesson on learning responsibility, one which she shares with others!!

In addition, it is wise to teach our children to recognize when their siblings demonstrate good character and to praise them for that.  The natural tendency is to notice and report on those times when their siblings demonstrate bad character -- no instruction is needed to get our children to do that!   Tattle-taling seems to come naturally!  Instead, we want to train our children to look for the good things that their brothers and sisters do and share that. You might provide a time at the dinner table where children can share a positive character quality that they observed being demonstrated during the day.  This helps to create a positive atmosphere and binds the hearts of your children together. 

In the next post, I am going to talk more about praising for character.


mommyx12 said...

I am glad you had the links posted handy today. It's been a crazy week and I haven't been able to read over them as I wanted. Now today is slow and I have some time.

That is my biggest problem I think is getting the children to look for the good in each other rather than always finding something to rat about. That's a challenge for sure. Thanks for these posts on character.

Michelle (She Looketh Well) said...

Wonderful job on your posts this week.

I just wanted to stop by and wish you a blessed Mother's day! You are a dear friend and I love your mama's heart.

Sending love and hugs!

Noel said...

this has been quite a series! It shows how much thought you've put into being a good mother and child-trainer :) I'm taking notes!

Rebecca's Refining said...

I like your idea about praising siblings for demonstrating good character traits! I will have to try to remember to start that! :)

Thanks again for reminding us of the importance of having godly character!

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