(Stock photo) Values are generally caught, not taught, so our children will catch them by observing us demonstrate them.
Essential Character Traits for Kids
FEBRUARY 24, 2009Craig Harris, HappyNews ColumnistWhat character traits do you want your children to possess? Noted child psychologist Dr. Tim Kimmel says there are six character traits that all children must learn as they mature.
First, faith. Faith gives a person the ability to see beyond his immediate surroundings. He can see that there is more to this life than what he is facing at the moment. This is important because our immediate circumstances will not always be to our liking. Faith gives a person hope. It is a character trait no one would want to be without.
Second, integrity. Integrity comes from the mathematical term, integer, which is a whole number. A person with integrity is honest, straight-forward, and consistent, no matter the circumstances. A person with integrity is wholly devoted to his principals and beliefs.
Third, poise. Poise is the ability to remain calm when things around us are falling apart. Dr. Kimmel says poise is the ability to act in an appropriate manner for the situation. There are times to act silly and times to behave in a more serious manner.
Fourth, self-discipline. This is the trait on which the other traits hang. The goal of parenting is to instill this character trait. This is what will save them when we are not around. This is what will keep them out of a world of pain and trouble. Self-discipline has been defined as having the ability to delay gratification. I like that because it reminds us that we can experience pleasure, but it is best in its proper place and time. A person who “can’t wait” for anything is going to suffer because of it. A person who cannot make himself do his homework before he plays a video game needs a good dose of this character trait.
Fifth, endurance. Endurance is the ability to stick with it and not give up. Every child will face many challenges in his lifetime. A person with this character trait will see things through. This is important in relationships, jobs, school, and just about everything else in life. Quitters never win, but winners never quit. We must teach our children this.
Sixth, courage. We often think of courage as not being afraid, but real courage is being afraid and doing the right thing anyway. Children will face many temptations, but courage allows them to make the right decisions. Having the courage to stand up for what is right will serve them well. Having the courage to do what is right will take them far.
So, how do we instill these character traits in our children? We can’t talk them into having them. Values are generally caught, not taught, so our children will catch them by observing us demonstrate them. In other words, we need to possess these traits if we want our children to have them. Fortunately, our kids can do better than us, but most of us have a tendency to follow the character traits we see in our parents. And yes, we tell our children what we expect from them, specifically vocalizing these traits, but that must be backed up by our actions or our children may tune us out.
We want our children to possess these character traits. The truth is, they will generally follow the character they observe in us. Let’s make sure that is a good thing.
Craig Harris is the pastor of a country church and the parent involvement coordinator of the Palestine Independent School District. He is also a loan officer (LO #76755) for Capital Mortgage in Whitehouse, offering loans for home purchases and refinancing. You can contact him at lcraigharris(at)gmail.com. Read more from him at his blog: lcraigharris.blogspot.com.