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How To Develop Character In Children

Some people may think it's old-fashioned to talk about character development. But I got to tell you, a good character never goes out of style. This article will talk about how we help our children develop good character in these times when some people don't even think that there is a thing called character at all. Ah, the memories of my childhood working in the yard every Saturday morning for hours. 

In fact, I'm such a good mom I have my children work in the yard with me regularly for hours too. Why would I do this when I didn't enjoy it very much as a child? I remember asking my father when I was young. "Dad, why do we have to do all of this yard work all the time?" And he looked at me as proud as he could be and said, "Because it builds good character." I wasn't really sure I wanted that thing called character. It didn't sound very good. 

It certainly didn't feel very good all of the time. Especially when I'd rather be playing with friends. In this article, I would like to explain to you some of the histories of character where it came from, and why it matters. And then I'm going to talk about the five key components for helping build good character in children

Back in the time of the ancient, Anglo-Saxons in Britain, there was a practice where if someone was a thief or a murderer or a blasphemer or something like that, they would actually brand letters into their hands, foreheads, shoulders, faces so that everyone could know what bad thing they had done. The tool used to burn this mark into the criminal or the offender was given a name. 

The name for the tool was CHARACTER. Over time, the mark made by the tool also carried the same name. So, if you saw a person that had something burned into their hand, you would know their character. Meaning, their history of all of the bad things that they have done with the law or that the society had not approved of. 

Well, it didn't take too many hundreds of years until this sum total of a person's bad qualities or bad characters were switched out by gentlemen and ladies. And the word character became known for the sum total of a person's good qualities. In fact, the people started saying "That is a man of character." And that's what everyone wanted to be, was a person of character. For many many years, the mark of a person's character was actually the most important thing about the person. 

So, what does it look like? What is the mark if a person has good character? There's something about that person that shows honesty. Feels like integrity, feels like strength, calmness, peace, understanding, wisdom, duty, compassion, punctuality even. There are a lot of different qualities that would come together to make a person of character. To turn yourself into that person, you had to practice a refining process called self-government. 

This means that you would examine yourself piece by piece and determine which piece needed improvement to take you in the direction that you are going called character. Here are 5 key components to developing character in children. 

Number 1, you need to have consistent teaching that involves self-analysis. What this means is you've got to correct the problems every time. Not just when you're in the mood when you feel like you've got the energy for it. It has to be all the time. And the correction needs to happen the same way every time too. So, that the child gets the opportunity to learn cause-and-effect properly. 

If they hear the same types of correction for the same behavior every you'll time, then they're able to analyze themselves better. They can see "I did this thing and this is what happened. This is the correction that occurred or the teaching that occurred." I think of correcting as teaching. Not as punishment and making a person try to feel bad about what they did. 

But just teaching them cause-and-effect so they can get themselves going back in that right direction. So, that is the first key component that is vital for helping a child determine how to develop their own character. Because we can't develop their characters for them. 

The second component is honest communication,  this means no manipulation. There's a difference between those things. I hope you can see that clearly. But when a parent chooses to be emotional, that actually is manipulative. The child feels that manipulation and they won't respond well. And if you start manipulating them to make a change in themselves then they will start manipulating you as well to try to get you to change to make life easier for them too. 

There are multiple different ways to have honest communication with your children especially when you're correcting them. Honest communication does not, I repeat, NOT sound like, "You make me so mad!" You may be feeling that inside but that is an emotional response to somebody else's action. So, that is manipulation. 

Honest communication would sound more like a description such as, "Just now, I gave you an instruction and you didn't look at me or keep a calm face voice, and body. You didn't say, okay or do the task immediately. What you should have done was look at the person. Kept a calm face voice and body said okay or ask to disagree appropriately. 

Do the task immediately and then check back." And then you would go on with the corrective teaching from there. Those 3 things are all related to each other. Service, that means that the family members willingly serve each other. The family would not talk about how one person did more than another person or how somebody else had to do something that was harder than somebody else and how it's not fair. The family just serves each other. 

Whatever needs to be done, we work on it. We don't compare, we don't try to act like we're in competition with family members. And the parents don't do it either. The parents show sacrifice and duty to their children which means even when you're tired, even when you're sick, even when it's been a hard day at the office, you still do the teaching. You still look at them in the eyes with love. You still care about taking the time to do the correction.

Because they need that for their own development. When they see you step up to the challenge and be the person you're supposed to be in the family, they'll learn by example that that's what it means to be a great man or a great woman. And you'll soon become their hero. People who have a great character all have heroes. They have people they try to emulate. It used to be parents were always the heroes. Now, we have these icons in the media that captured the attention of young people. 

Those people aren't heroes. In fact, they display the lowest possible standards and glory in them. Know our children need to see what a real hero looks like. And it's up to us and grandparents and the people around them that really care to show them what a hero is by having good character ourselves. The fourth key component for helping children develop good character is goal-setting and follow-through. 

When a person sets goals and these themselves follow through with those goals or at the very least be held accountable, then that person is more likely to take ownership over their own behavior and their own thoughts. They will plan for their future success. So, parents need to have specific times where they set goals with their children for how they want to develop. You know, I think sometimes the children just go along passively with their own development.

Because the parents are just trying to make something happen to the child without involving the child really in the process. That is also called a manipulation. They need to know what you're doing, how you're correcting, how you're communicating. Why? How they can use this in their future to become mature? And having real character is a state of maturity. 

Number 5, work. One of my heroes literary heroes is a man called Samuel Smiles. He wrote a book back in the 1800s called character. I highly recommend reading it. In this book, he talked about work. And he said work is the antidote for a sick character. When I read that phrase, I realized that is totally true. I have seen it time and time again as troubled youth have come in my home and out of my home when we did the BBC program back in 2009 and those two troubled children came to our home. 

Those children did not know how to work. And because of that, they were very selfish. Selfishness is the opposite of having good character. Because remember, good character involves duty. Duty is the opposite of selfishness. Duty takes other people into consideration. Selfishness means you only think about yourself. When a person works, they oftentimes, in fact, the majority of the time, especially in a family are serving their family members. 

They're reaching outside of themselves and they're doing something that helps the family. They also have to control themselves through the whole process of getting the job done. Whatever it happens to be. Maybe it's an easy job. Maybe it's a hard job. But they have to decide ahead of time, "I'm going to get this job done. This is how I'm going to do this job." And then they have to follow through with it. When they follow through with the job, they actually feel a sense of accomplishment. 

This sense of accomplishment builds confidence and improves their character because it gives them a desire to do more and more good things. More and more hard things to conquer themselves again and again. And the mark of a person with character is a person who has conquered themselves time and time again. 

My dad was right about character and about work. Thanks, dad! I really hope that I've been able to instill that same work ethic in my children. In fact, as I'm seeing them grow and move on into adulthood, I am seeing them work hard and not complain. I'm hearing things from them like, "Mom, I'm so glad you taught me how to cook. 

Mom, I'm so glad you taught me how to make something out of nothing. Mom, I'm so glad you taught me how to work. My roommates are slobs." And such and so forth. A big part of character development is turning the will or the heart of the child toward the hero, toward the leader that needs to give them the principles that they need for their own personal maturity and development. 

This means strong will children could struggle a little bit with character development. They'll also excel at it. As soon as they find out that when they live according to character, they live with the truth. That's what strong-willed children like.

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