Raising Children of Character

You are Your Child’s Personal Trainer: Raising Children of Character

A personal trainer is a fitness professional who instructs and suggests an exercise program to meet the goals of clients.  A trainer critiques a client’s strengths and weaknesses, develops a plan with the client for improvement, provides feedback, and holds the client accountable to his/her fitness goals.

Make a list of character qualities that you would like your child to develop.

The Bible describes our parental role of training our child by recounting the story of Abraham in Genesis 18:19.

I have singled him (Abraham) out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.  Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.

Your goal is to train your child to do what is right and just, based on God’s principles.

It is important to have a plan and be intentional in helping your child develop good character.  Your child will be blessed if you teach him/her to follow the Lord’s paths.

  • Plan a set time to teach your child God’s principles; during mealtimes, before bed, or first thing in the morning.  If you are separated from your child, teach him/her through e-mail, phone calls, text messages, or letters.
  • Listen to your child’s questions.
  • Understand what your child knows and understands about a topic.
  • Use the principles of Scripture as your guide in helping your child choose the correct thinking or right path.
  • Help your child understand how to apply the Scriptures to his/her life.
  • Instill in your child a habit of turning to the Bible for answers to life’s questions.
  • Use teachable moments throughout the day.
  • Follow the example of Deuteronomy 6:6-7.  Talk about God’s ways throughout your day.

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.   Repeat them again and again to your children.   Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

  • Use experiences that you and your child encounter to reinforce an idea that you have previously taught him/her.

From the family archives: 

When our daughter was 5 years old,  we went into a small store to do some shopping.  Upon returning home, my daughter proudly showed me a pretty bracelet.  I was horrified!!  She had taken it without our paying for it.  We had been talking about honesty and right here was a “teachable moment!” Even though it was inconvenient and embarrassing for me, we returned to the store in order for her to return the bracelet.  My daughter explained to the cashier that she had taken it without our paying.  The sales lady was very kind, took the bracelet back, and thanked our daughter for her honesty.  That day, my daughter had an experience which reinforced our discussions about the need to be honest and live according to God’s principles.

  • Find the right time.
  • If you see an opportunity to teach, but don’t have time at the moment, postpone the discussion until later.
  • If you or your child are too emotionally upset, delay the discussion until you are both calm.
  • If you need to correct your child, but are in the presence of many people, take your child to a quiet place and talk about the misbehavior.

Use Media as a teaching tool.

  • Negative and corrupted values are constantly presented to your child.
  • Talk with your child about TV shows, advertising, movies, the Internet, music, video games, magazines, and signage.  Discuss how media lines up with Christian values.

Use conflicts between family and friends to show your child what to do in a   particular situation.

  • Use travel time to talk with your child.
  • Talk about something you see “out your window”, such as litter, inconsiderate drivers, or the homeless.
  • Talk about school-related topics or other topics that concern your child.
  • Reinforce positive behavior that you notice in your child.
  • Compliment specifically on your child’s honesty, kindness, or good habits.  Your child will tend to repeat those things that please you.
  • Remember that it takes 6 positive comments to cancel 1 negative comment.
  • Pray with your child about the things that concern him/her.
  • Your child is most receptive to your teaching at bedtime.  Use this relaxed time to pray with your child about things that worry him/her.

Plan family activities that teach good character.

  • Do community service.
  • Perform an act of kindness.  Write a note or make a picture to thank someone.
  • Read books on character.
  • Play  “What Should You Do? Make a set of cards describing real-life situations and ask your child what he/she would do. Talk about your child’s response to the situation.  Lead your child in discovering God’s path.
  • Play  “How Does It Feel?  Have conversations about how characters feel in real-life situations, movies or books.

Your turn!  List more family activities that would develop good character in your child.

You need to live your own life with godly character as an example to your child. You are your child’s most important role model and a powerful influence.  Be clear about what your values and beliefs are and pass them onto your child.

As a parent:

  • Read God’s Word.  The book of Proverbs is a practical guide and provides wisdom in daily living.
  • Guard your heart and look at your motivations carefully.
  • Confess your sins to God and others.
  • Pray with a friend about your spiritual and emotional needs.
  • Find someone or a community group who will hold you accountable.
  • Pray for wisdom.
  • Pray with a friend for each other’s children.
  • Attend church.

Try Something New

Ask the Lord to give you opportunities and wisdom to teach your child to do what is right.  In your own life, model the habit of turning to God’s Word for answers to life’s questions and commit yourself to obeying God.

Verses for Encouragement

Ask the Lord for wisdom in teaching your child.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  (James 1:5)

Be determined to live according to God’s Word.

How can a young man (young woman) keep his/her way pure?  By living according to your word.  (Psalms 119:9)