By Deborah Nayrocker, M.Ed., Crosswalk.com
Are you training your children to have good character traits?
When we talk of character we refer to one’s moral or ethical strength and how one responds to matters of right and wrong.
Have you noticed that the people who do not have good character traits are hard to live with and not well-liked?
Parents have the most important role in forming and shaping the development of their children’s character. It’s very likely that the attitudes and beliefs of the parents will be passed on to their children.
We will look at five character traits that are important in having a successful family. These basic traits are responsibility, industry, diligence, patience, and honesty.
When we show responsibility we recognize that we are to be trustworthy and accountable for our actions. When we are responsible we are dependable people.
People who aren’t responsible want to be accountable to no one. They often come up with excuses for their wrong behavior. Too often selfishness and irresponsibility are linked together.
Parents play an important role in training their children to be responsible and dependable. Good parents instruct their children in ways that mold and shape them to be dependable citizens.
Good parents show responsibility by caring for their children. They set general rules, teaching respect and order. Children show responsibility by listening to their parents.
Responsibility should be taught at a young age. Even a two-year-old can learn to put away toys, clothes, and other belongings. Children can make their bed, take care of a pet, and help with simple household tasks.
Have a positive attitude of expectancy that your children will carry out the assignment well. When the task is done, show your positive joy in the completion of the task. Praise them for taking responsibility.
People with industry have consistently achieved noteworthy success. An industrious person works hard at a task.
Before Adam disobeyed God and sin entered the world, God instructed Adam to work the garden. Adam was placed in the garden to take care of it and not to live a life of idleness.
The term “work ethic” used today comes from the phrase “Protestant work ethic.” German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber coined the phrase, observing that the Protestant faith and ideology went hand in hand with economic growth. In his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber observed that Protestants worked hard, saved, and accumulated capital.
Weber observed hard work and thrift during his visits to America in the early 1900s. He believed that the dynamism of the Western society was attributed to the Protestant work ethic. He saw a link between a people’s spiritual life and the growing of the economy.
Hard work is a huge factor in being successful in life. Another factor is being able to rise above difficult circumstances.
Whether or not children do anything noteworthy in life depends mostly on their attitude toward work and the obstacles in the way.
Help them form a definite purpose and goal at which to aim. Use the principle of suggestion to encourage them to do their assigned tasks.
It’s important to affirm children in each stage of their growth. Help them experience a sense of accomplishment.
Diligence is defined as “persistent application to one’s work or duty; persevering effort.”
When we are diligent we are persevering. We carry on persistently with work or duties. We faithfully carry out what needs to be done.
On the other hand, people who aren’t diligent are content to just meet the bare minimum standards. An employer does not want to hire someone those who do just enough work to get by.
King Solomon wrote that the diligent person prospers. He wrote, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 13:4; 21:5). In other words, steady plodding brings prosperity, but being hasty (acting too quickly) brings poverty.
When children are young they can learn about diligence by using puzzles and games. They can be encouraged to construct and invent things using building blocks and construction sets.
Children will usually finish a task if they like the work. Find a way to make the task beneficial and interesting. When they’re working on the task compliment them on how well they’re doing.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton
Patience is demonstrating quiet endurance. We remain calm about the issues at hand and we’re not easily flustered.
Have you noticed that the strongest people, the ones you admire the most, are patient and self-controlled? People agree that a hot-temper is not admired.
When we are impatient we find that it is difficult to wait for things. We find that it is hard to wait for the things we want and anticipate.
Patience is an admirable virtue of inner strength. In the book Wings of Silver we read that “Patience is the finest and worthiest part of fortitude. Patience is not passive; on the contrary it is active; it is concentrated strength.”
As opportunities arise to teach children self-control, seek to be a good example. When an annoying thing happens to test your patience ask yourself, “What is the best thing to do NOW since this has already happened?
If your answer is wise, it will give you practice in self-control. Self-control helps you have clear thinking and clear thinking helps you have self-control.
Honesty is a cornerstone of character. Living honestly is defined as living “in a manner that is not given to lying, cheating, stealing, etc; not characterized by falsehood or intent to mislead."
People who are honest do not have to worry about a faulty memory. Since they are consistently honest, they shouldn’t ever have to worry about “getting caught” about anything.
Several years ago I had a conversation with my student Joe about the importance of telling the truth. He listened and then replied, “My mom says that it’s OK to lie. She says that everybody lies.” Sadly, Joe’s mother failed to teach her son at a young age the importance of being honest.
Teaching honesty requires that we ourselves be honest in our daily lives.
Teach children to tell the truth. Help them distinguish between fact and fiction.
Teach children to keep their promises. Be a positive example.
Have a friendly, trusting, and understanding attitude. This inspires confidence and self-respect.
When your child does confess a deception, thank him for telling you and say, “I know you will not do it again.” You don’t want him to associate pain with honest confession.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez
Use Well-Known Stories to Teach Good Character Traits
Lesson – Responsible people can be trusted to do the right thing, even if it costs something.
Industry: Children’s story: The Little Red Hen
Lesson – If you want a share of the rewards, you must take a share of the work, too.
Perseverance: Aesop’s tale: The Hare and the Tortoise
Lesson – The race is not always won by the swift but by those who continue keeping on.
Patience: Bible story: Noah and the Ark (Genesis 6:8-8:22).
Lesson – When you have patience you can wait for the desired end result.
Honesty: Aesop’s tale: The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Lesson – The fastest way to lose your good character is to lose your honesty.
Use Sayings or Proverbs to Teach Good Character Traits
Responsibility: “A good Christian makes a good citizen.” “Careful effort pays in the long run.”
Industry: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” “Prosperity’s right hand is industry, and her left hand is frugality.”
Perseverance: “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” “When there’s a will there’s a way.”
Patience: “Haste makes waste.” “Moderation in temper is a virtue.”
Honesty: “Honesty is the best policy.” “In the end, honesty pays.”
In conclusion, we are the moral conscience of today’s society and it’s up to us to build strong families and societies. Every day counts when we seek to instill good virtues in our families.
When families practice these five character traits -- responsibility, industry, diligence, patience, and honesty – they will have fewer problems in life. They will reap great benefits for years to come.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Wave Break Media
Deborah Nayrocker is the author of Grow in Faith toward Maturity: 31 Days to a Closer Walk with God (Credo House). A practical guide for new and growing Christians, the book has 31 brief chapters for daily devotional use. The book is available in paperback and e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Deborah’s website is www.DeborahNayrocker.com