Over the last two months I’ve been sharing some insights form Dr. Kevin Leman’s book, Have a New Kid by Friday. In February I reviewed the three pillars of a child’s self worth: Acceptance, Belonging, and Competence. Then in March I reviewed the first of the top 3 long-term concerns of parents, Attitude. I planned to talk about Behavior this month, but since I’d like to expand on that topic over several months, I’m going to skip forward and cover Character this month.
- Here are some things Dr. Leman says about character: Character is “who you are when no one is looking.”
- “Character is not only everything, it’s the only thing in the long run. It is the foundation for your attitude and behavior.”
- “Character doesn’t mean you are perfect. It means you have an inner standard that cares about others more than yourself.”
Strong will and strong character are not the same. Strong will is the tough, unbending determination to do what they want. Strong character is the ability to stand up and do the right thing even when it is unpopular or personally costly. So what can you do during the first few years of your child’s life to help them begin to develop a strong character?
There are some things you can begin to teach your toddler and preschooler that will help him develop good character.
- You can teach your child to be kind, to feel with another who is hurting. For some children this comes quite naturally, but for others parents need to help them become more empathetic.
- When your child is hurt, touch them tenderly and say comforting words.
- When you and your child see another child crying, talk about their pain and what can be done to help.
- When your child hurts someone else, tell them they hurt the other and teach them to say, “Sorry.” And to touch them tenderly or perhaps shake hands.
- As they get older they should learn to ask what they can do to “make it better.”
- You can teach your child how to treat smaller, weaker children.
- Don’t allow your child to bully other children. Teach them to share.
- As they get older, teach them how to stick up for the weaker kids.
- Teach them how to talk to handicapped children and adults.
- You can teach your child the importance of patience.
- Teach your child how to wait his turn.
- Teach your child that we don’t always get what we want, when we want it.
- You can teach your child how to stick with something until it is finished.
- This is not an easy lesson to learn.
- Don’t make the task so big that it cannot be finished in a reasonable length of time or with reasonable strength and skill.
- Share your faith with your child. Knowing that God cares about us and what we do helps children have the strength to do what is right even when it is hard.
Character is the foundation for their attitudes and behavior. Character lasts a lifetime.
Next month we will focus on behaviour. Then over the following months we’ll look at some specific problem areas and ways to deal with them.