As healthy parents we all want our children to have the good qualities necessary for a successful adult life. We want to instill good character in our children so that they feel motivated from within to "do the right thing" even when no one is watching. Just doing what is morally right and not for any selfish gain.... if everyone abided by that philosophy the world would surely be a better place
But how do parents reach that goal?
As parents we may read book after parenting book searching for "the answers" we desire. In a world that often seems sold on the mantra of "do what you want", "do what feels good" and "what do I get?".... instilling good character in our children can certainly seem like a daunting task at hand. Here are a few ideas of things to keep in mind when striving to instill the good character traits you believe to be important for your child...
1. Empathy: Today empathy often seems to be rare and yet if you ask someone today what they believe the most important trait for a person to have... it will often be empathy. To be able to put yourselves in someone else's shoes and be able to imagine the pain they are experiencing. To be understanding and have the ability to express how you feel yourself and listen to someone else's plight or concerns... including your spouse, these are important to connecting with others.
2. Positivity: Encouraging other's either through affirmation, validation, a hug or some other type of support in the form of flowers, a homemade gift or invite to join them for dinner, etc. Bringing light to other's lives and making someone else's day better has great value. Included in this is teaching our children the importance of including other's in the classroom, at lunch and on the playground. When we include others and don't partake in bullying (ignoring is a form of bullying also) it lifts other's up and has a domino effect on everyone.
3. Kindness should be free: We as parents don't have to reward each and every kind act our child does for others. They need to learn that just because we do something nice for someone we aren't playing a game of "let's make a deal." Instead they can learn that to do something for someone else in itself brings great joy.... we can say "Wow, I bet that really made Jacob's day when you let him play with your favorite truck all afternoon!" We can point out the positives our child's choices lead to when they make selfless decisions.
4. Respect: As parents often one of the most stressful times of day for us is breakfast and dinnertime. Hurrying out the door in the morning and rushing to get dinner on the table can often lead to stress, curt answers and sighs of irritation. But when we slow down and take pause to speak and react respectfully to our children it makes a big difference. They are learning to model after us and just because they are little doesn't make them any less than. In addition to showing them respect we can model respect to other's we come in contact with each day... our spouse's, cashiers, waitresses, tellers and teachers. When our children see us use our manners and treat people with kindness they learn that not one person should be treated rudely.
5. Responsibility: Having some chores around the house that should be done simply because they are part of a family is essential. Teaching our children that everyone should pitch in and help gives them responsibility and if additional chores are desired perhaps then compensation can be implemented. But regardless children will excel when they learn that the great feeling of accomplishment from within is much more important than any monetary gain.
6. Behavior: When we model good behavior for our children it speaks volumes, much louder than anything we tell them to do or not to do. When we are faithful to our spouse, when we don't run red lights, when we admit we were wrong, when we don't resort to bad mouthing people, our children pick up on those behaviors and are very aware of them. All the books today on parenting practically scream from the pages about how parents shouldn't bad mouth the other parent and point out their flaws.... regardless of whether they are together or not. The truth is.... your child doesn't need their mom to point out that dad is the reason for the marriage ending... because he now has a girlfriend. Your child doesn't need mom to point out that dad is a workaholic... because your child can clearly see with their own eyes he's never home. Children are incredibly smart and as adults we all need to give them more credit. Adults are not fooling them. Children inherently know which parent is setting the better example and each parent has the ability to make the conscious choice at any given time to begin making better choices.
Each and every day we have the opportunity to instill the good character traits we believe to be important in our children... but it begins with us. Each time we model the good behavior we wish for them to live we are shaping them bit by bit for the better...
God is there to guide us and although we may reach for an occasional parenting book to read.... the best one is already on shelves at a bookstore near you... possibly on your bookcase at home or resting on your bedside table...
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
image “Mother Teaching To Her Daughter”
by David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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