Building Character

What character traits do you consider important for your children to develop? How do you encourage those traits?

We were fortunate that our children’s elementary school included an emphasis on teaching character traits like honesty, respect and compassion. Each month the entire school focused on one quality – understanding it and practicing it.

At the end of each year two students who exemplify these character traits were chosen for recognition. Students selected for this humanitarian award needed to meet these guidelines:
  • Promote understanding and harmony.
  • Be sensitive to the feelings of others.
  • Value differences among people.
  • Show compassion and concern for others.
  • Be thoughtful and kind.
  • Peacefully solve conflicts.
  • Cope and adjust to new and different situations.
  • Have a positive outlook.
  • Practice humanitarian behaviors continuously.
  • Applaud and support others in their endeavors.
  • Seek out friendships with others.
  • Work cooperatively with others.
  • Treat others with respect and dignity.
  • Take risks to improve situations.
The school environment felt genuinely supportive and kind due everyone striving towards these behaviors. These are behaviors worth encouraging!

Guiding Children Through Embarrassing Moments

One teacher described how embarrassed a 7-year-old boy was when he occasionally wet his pants. Although the other kids knew they weren’t supposed to tease him, they did it anyway.

The kind teacher told the boy “Everyone has things that don’t work for them. You’ll figure this out. Go change your pants right now and then we’ll play a game.” The teacher did not make a big deal of it and also gave the boy confidence that he would eventually solve the problem.

Kindergarten Worksheets

Preschoolers have many skills to learn before they are ready for kindergarten. You can find a lot of ideas for helping your children develop social-emotional skills in parenting classes. Where can you get ideas for helping your child with reading, writing and math skills?

A former kindergarten teacher has created a wonderful web site called School Sparks. This site is filled with free worksheets for topics like

  • Learning the alphabet
  • Fine and gross motor skill development
  • Auditory processing
  • Visual discrimination
  • Letter/Word awareness
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Math/number awareness

There are also games like bingo which help children learn while having fun. Print out whatever worksheets your children would like and let the fun begin!

Learning Life Lessons Picking Blueberries

What can children learn from picking blueberries? Quite a lot it turns out!

A two-year-old girl was at our house picking blueberries and immediately eating each one. My husband stood nearby explaining to her how picking blueberries was like many life experiences. Some were kind of sour, some were sweet, some looked like they would be good but weren’t and others turned out to be better than they looked.

Like life experiences, just because one blueberry doesn’t turn out as good as expected, it doesn’t mean it’s time to stop picking blueberries. Rather each sour one teaches you what to look for in the ripe, sweet ones. He encouraged her to keep on picking and reassured her that way she’d be bound to get her fill of sweet, wonderful experiences!

Misbehaving at the Store

Megan, mom of a 2-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl, told me how embarrassed she was during a recent trip to the grocery store. Her daughter started putting things into the cart that weren’t on the list. When Megan told her she wasn’t buying these things and she needed to put them back, her daughter started screaming. Her son contributed to the mayhem by tossing a couple other items into the cart.

When calmly reasoning with the children didn’t work, Megan found herself yelling at them and feeling like an out-of-control crazy woman. Yikes! This is not the way she wanted it to be.

Although she was trying to set limits on her children’s behavior, it really wasn’t working. We discussed some other things she could try. She decided that next time she would take a friend along to the store. When the kids acted up, she plans to calmly take them out to the car and put them in their car seats. Her friend will watch them in the car while she finishes shopping.

Knowing that other parents have suffered through these same types of struggles and having a new plan helped Megan feel more hopeful. Sometimes just getting some new ideas to try is the beginning of turning a situation around!

Parenting vows

When a couple is married, they take wedding vows promising how they will treat each other and live together. When a child is born, no such vows are typically taken. However, if you were to make a vow to your child, what would you say?

Below is what I would say. Click the picture if you'd like to print out a copy. What would you vow to your child?

We, _______________________________,
welcome you, _______________________________,
as our beloved child.
We promise to
love you unconditionally,
feed you nutritiously,
protect you from harm,
treat you with respect,
guide you in learning from mistakes,
laugh with you,
play with you,
comfort you in times of sadness,
encourage you to develop your talents,
support you in striving to achieve your goals,
be open and honest with you,
and be there for you for the rest of our lives.

Where’s the limit?

I recently watched a preschooler test the limits of acceptable behavior in church. The child was sitting alongside the aisle with his mom. First he stood up next to his chair. Next he wandered a little into the aisle. Not getting any negative feedback, he roamed a couple rows down.

He then tried jumping up and down. Of course he chose to do this right during a quiet time so it did get people’s attention. Still his mom did not react.

Finally he did some clapping while stamping his feet. At this point his mom picked him up and brought him back to his seat.

He had finally found the limit! Kids naturally try stretching the boundaries. It’s part of exploring and growing. When you see your children’s behavior continuing and escalating, it’s time to let them know they’ve reached a boundary.

Normal Parenting Problems

All parents run into challenges in handling their children’s behavior. Just like normally developing children will try cooing, sitting up, crawling and walking, they will also try throwing tantrums, whining and screaming.

It can sometimes feel like you are the only parent who is struggling to handle your children’s behavior. Nevertheless, the truth is all parents go through these challenges.

One preschooler teacher described how she could see parents struggling with their children and wanted to help. However, parents often became defensive if she tried discussing it.

She went on to explain that this is why she really likes the Priceless Parenting Guidebook. When she shows parents stories in the book from other families, they realize they aren’t alone. They are also much more open to trying out the new ideas suggested in the book.

Read this book to tap into the universal body of research and knowledge about how to handle every day parenting challenges!

Developing a Child’s Moral Compass

It isn’t enough to know right from wrong. Children also need to choose the right behavior even when the wrong behavior is very tempting. Even when they are pretty sure they won’t get caught.

How do children develop their own internal moral compass? They learn through observing the behavior of parents, relatives, teachers, religious leaders and others. They learn by experiencing the consequences of their own choices.

Your children won’t always make the right decisions. One mom found this out when her 13-year-old daughter ignored family rules by going to “stranger hook-up” websites and giving out her name, phone number and email address. Although this girl knew she wasn’t supposed to do this, the allure of all the positive attention was just too much for her.

Her parents decided to help their daughter by limiting these types of choices at least for awhile. When she’s more prepared to handle her cellphone and computer responsibly, she’ll have another chance.

Mistakes are part of learning and developing a strong moral compass. Your children will make mistakes. What they learn depends on how you respond.

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