One of the many reasons we chose to homeschool was so we could place an extra emphasis on building character in our children, something that just isn’t taught at most schools. The Bible clearly emphasizes the importance of developing character, from aiding with life’s struggles and producing hope (Romans 5:3-4) to declaring noble character as worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10), to our ability to live a good life and enter God’s kingdom (2 Peter 1: 5-11). But how do we build character and teach it to our children?
We cultivate character by working to consistently emulate Christ.
Here are four ways to begin building character with our kids.
Reading & Memorizing Scripture
In Acts 17:11, the Berean Jews were credited as having noble character because they received God’s Word with eagerness and examined scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. We can’t emulate Christ without knowing who He is, what He did, and why He came to serve and save. The best way to know Him better is by eagerly examining Scripture every day with our kids.
Three of our favorite resources for teaching Biblical truths to our daughter in a fun and memorable way are the Story Bible by Edward Englebrecht, Songs for Saplings by Dana Dirksen, and Hide ‘Em in Your Heart Volume 1 & 2 by Steve Green.
Serve & Care for Others
Matthew 28:20 tells us even Christ came to serve, not to be served, so it is a critical part of being more like Him. Psalm 15 acts as a character building guide and tells us how we should be to others. From toddlerhood on, children can get involved in serving others. It can begin at home with teaching them to help with household tasks (i.e. sorting laundry, helping with dishes, picking up their toys and books, meal preparation, etc.) and can transition to activities outside the home (i.e. visiting shut-ins, putting together grab bags for the poor and hungry, coloring cards for soldiers or the sick, or joining a 5k event for charity).
Keep Them from Bad Company
We need to not only guard our own hearts, but especially our children’s, as everything else flows from these precious hearts. In terms of our kids, we can begin by monitoring who and what they are consistently exposed to. A huge threat to our children’s hearts comes from media influences. We went to a restaurant recently that was playing a local radio station, and witnessed a 7 year old singing along to a song about drugs and promiscuity. I worked at a Day Care Center many years ago and saw kids much younger singing and saying awful things. This exposure has a lasting, detrimental impact. Many of these influences are even more subtle, like movies or books that depict dinosaurs living millions of years before humans. If they come to believe something that directly opposes the first book of the Bible, everything else becomes a struggle. Choose their media and monitor their company wisely.
Lastly, Our Example
When I think of Christ, I think of grace and how He gently, patiently and persistently guided His flock. We should also lead our own flock by grace, doing what is right, speaking the Truth, and keeping oaths, even when it is hard or uncomfortable. All of this demonstrates integrity and Christ-centered integrity will guide them through the rest of their lives. Teach them to use the Bible as a moral compass and work on developing the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their hearts as well as your own. They will be blessed by your example and learn more from it than words will ever convey. Change begins with you.
In all of this, be sure to allow and extend grace to both your children and yourself. If you are hypercritical of yourself, they will learn to be hypercritical of themselves. Grace isn’t just for our kids, parents need it in abundance. The more you develop their moral compass, the more freedom you gain as a parent to trust they will do what is right, whether or not you are physically present to guide them.
Our children are such blessings and such a great responsibility. The work you put into developing their character might just be the greatest contribution you ever give to God’s kingdom.
My name is Kristi and I’ve had a life full of brokenness that has been championed by God’s grace. I have more blessings than I can count, the top two- being married to my best friend and our wonderful daughter. I have volunteered or worked in social service positions my entire life and love sharing tips for how we can do more to help others and get our children involved in serving. I have a passion for sharing Christ’s love and I hope you’ll come over and say hi at Finding Our Feet. Nice to meet you! You can also find me on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.