It seems like the time for constantly needing to bring correction to your children comes during the toddler stage. Oh, those “terrible twos!” I found myself asking a few moms what they did for training, especially after my second baby got a little older. More and more there was something to correct. In my search on parenting I found that I was drawn to the subject of character. So I switched my focus to working on teaching my kids to have a Godly character that would reflect obedience, honor, truthfulness, diligence, etc. rather than trying to just trying to fix minor incidences. I started gathering information on giving kids chores and how to organize these responsibilities. Chores are a wonderful time to instill character values!
I started with teaching my kids obedience. I was inspired by a craft I found in a Character First!® booklet on Obedience, and adapted it to work for a younger child. We made a keys craft that had the word obedience on one side of each paper key and the other side held the four things that helps you to obey properly:
- Happy attitude
- No complaining
- Right away
- Finish all
We made a set of keys for each child (and mommy, too!) that we still have. The kids have these four keys memorized. I will give them a job and then have them repeat the keys of obedience. If they don’t obey with all four keys then we talk about it and fix whatever is lacking. I use scripture and other things to enforce discipline too, but these simple things help the kids understand how to obey properly.
What about mommy? I have these keys memorized, too. My husband can even recite them. I had a startling revelation one day, though. I realized that I was not always obeying God with a happy attitude. And sometimes I complained. Sometimes I delayed. Delayed obedience is not obedience at all, it’s disobedience. Or sometimes I realized that I would start something God told me to do, but I wouldn’t be diligent to finish all of it. I’ve had to adjust my heart with these simple keys! Along the way of training my kids with a Godly character, God has been training my character!
The training for my kids and God’s training for me went to the next level. I gave my kids Personal Responsibilities when they were two and four. Every morning they are to take care of a few things:
- Make bed
- Go potty
- Get dressed
- PJ’s on bed
- Clean room
Yes, I am serious. They loved it…at first. But it’s all part of the training. We often have to review the four keys of obedience! Yet there are days they’ll come running down to my room, pop their face into mine and excitedly say, “Mommy, I finished all my ‘sponsibilities!”
I’ve learned a lot from putting these Personal Responsibilities into place. Such as, if I require my kids to make their bed, then I need to make mine! My husband and I have both made some changes. We are their first example. No it’s not perfect by any means, but we are working toward doing the best we can.
Have you ever found yourself teaching something and felt like you were learning at the same time? What was it? If you have kids, what practical things have you done to instill character in them?