There are so many ways that our kids learn character, but the most important and effective method is consistent and intentional character training. We can talk about how important character training is. Or how a child’s character is formed in the early years. Even how we hope our kids will develop Godly character. However, the truth is that it doesn’t just happen.
How do you teach a child character? It takes work, time, teaching, and training.
It requires a plan of what you want them to learn, and how you are going to teach it to them.
You need to be intentional about character training if you really want to see them grow and become more like Christ.
Here are 10 Tips For Intentional Character Training
1. Take advantage of opportunities that come up in the day.
Often we fail to take advantage of those teaching moments that we have during normal daily life. For example, when one of the kids helps a younger one, comment on how kind they are being.
If one of them picks up toys without being told praise them for showing initiative. If one of them walks away from an argument, make a big deal about them being a peacemaker.
The more you talk about the good character traits that they are showing, the more they will try to please you in those areas. Kids just love to make their parents happy, and the best thing we can do is let them know what pleases us so they can repeat it.
I would suggest using character charts to help you look for the good in your child’s behavior, as well as to keep them encouraged. You can download the 3 Best Character Charts to Encourage Growth for free here.
2. When correction is necessary, always point them to God’s Word.
Show them what God says about the behavior, and pray with them about doing what God says is right. This should be done in a positive way.
Here is the way we usually approach it:
I know how much you love God, and that you want to please Him, but when you acted like that (did that, said that…) God wasn’t pleased. Let’s go to His Word and see what He says about that, and find some answers.
Training & Correcting the Heart With Scripture is a great resource for finding verses that relate to the issue you are dealing with. It covers the most common behaviors kids struggle with, and gives Scripture to go with each one.
3. Give them Godly role models.
One of the best ways to teach your kids what Godly character looks like in everyday life, is to introduce them to Godly role models. This can be adults in the church, relatives who are a good example or even reading biographies to them about great Christians.
4. Pray daily for their character to grow and develop
One of my favorite things to tell parents is that we need to work as though it all depends on us, and pray as though it all depends on God. We need to do our part to diligently teach and train our kids to have Godly character. But then ask God to do His work in their hearts.
Even when you get discouraged and don’t see the results as soon as you were hoping, you need to stay faithful in working and praying, trusting God will do His part.
Praying consistently for your children to grow in character is one of the best things you can do for them! If you need some help and encouragement in this area, join me for our 30-Day Prayer Challenge: Praying Biblical Virtues For Your Children
5. Praise good character more than good grades or physical appearance.
If you praise them for being smart or pretty, they will think that is what you value. (And really they have no control over if they are smart or pretty.) Let them know how thrilled you are when you see them making wise choices, or being kind to a sibling, doing schoolwork with a good attitude, etc.
Brag about their character to the grandparents or your spouse when they can hear you. That will just encourage their heart, and make them realize how pleased you are about them showing good character.
6. Teach daily character lessons in a fun, practical way that will help them apply the lessons to their daily lives.
Making sure that our kids are being taught regular character lessons is much more important than making sure they learn math or history every day.
Add to your faith, virtue (character), and to virtue, knowledge.... II Peter 1;5
I found that when we took the first part of our day and gave it to God by getting into His Word, and working on homeschool character training, God blessed the remaining part of the day. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are too busy and don’t have time for that, but in reality, we make time for what is important to us.
God says that faith and character should come before knowledge (academics), so it only makes sense that He will bless our day when we follow His priorities.
7. Allow your children to make mistakes.
One of the most untalked-about aspects of parenting, especially in Christian families, is allowing children to make mistakes. We tend to focus more on raising perfect children who understand everything from the first time they’re introduced and don’t expect them to make mistakes.
The issue with that mentality is what it does to a child’s mind. They begin to develop perfectionist attitudes and can really beat themselves up when they don’t “measure up” to the expectations placed on them.
Instead of focusing primarily on expecting them to live perfectly, embrace their mistakes and as mentioned in the first tip, take advantage of using it as a learning opportunity. We can also use examples and experiences from our own lives to help comfort them in the times they do mess up and/or fall short.
8. Be intentional with your job to lead, guide, and direct your children toward living a godly character lifestyle.
Falling into a mundane lifestyle of crossing t’s and dotting i’s is easy to do. When it comes to teaching our children valuable lessons that will follow them throughout adulthood, we should become most intentional about doing so versus mundane.
When parents become intentional about raising godly children, it becomes much easier to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’ll begin to see everyday life through a different lens versus one that’s only focused on the end goal.
Being intentional in your job to lead, guide, and direct your children may look different than your friend’s journey or your pastor’s family’s journey, but that’s the beauty in it. You’re able to remove the blinders, not look to the right or to the left, and focus on meeting the needs of your family.
9. Focus on one godly character for an extended amount of time.
Learning how to live a lifestyle that exhibits godly character isn’t a one-stop shop. Instead, it is something that should be fashioned until we take our last breath. It isn’t necessarily something that has an arrival point; therefore, we shouldn’t treat training our children to have a godly character in that way.
It’s okay to focus on one godly character trait at a time, especially when we’re talking about being intentional about teaching it. I have many resources that you can use to help plan out days, weeks, or even months of activities and devotionals that can help introduce them in a low-impact, but powerful way.
10. Make intentional character training a family affair.
Teaching your children about living a godly lifestyle isn’t just for children. In fact, it can be much more powerful when turned into something the family does together. You can start with a weekly devotional followed by smaller discussions that happen throughout the week.
You can play games, read Scripture and other books, and even have a family journal time. When families participate in learning how to live a godly life together, it can be much more meaningful. Your children will have the opportunity to learn from their siblings as well as you.
The goal should never be to focus on the outer appearance of godly living, but to pierce the hearts of children so it becomes a matter of the heart. When your heart is in pleasing God, it makes walking it out much easier.
Bonus Tips About Teaching Intentional Character Lessons To Your Kids Daily
- They don’t have to be long and drawn out.
Depending on their ages, I always suggest stopping the lesson before they get bored with it. You want them to enjoy and look forward to learning about Godly character, so keep it short.
2. Make the lessons practical, but fun.
Most kids will enjoy lessons more if you do some hands-on activities to demonstrate what you are teaching. You can do some role-playing with right and wrong responses. Also playing some kind of game to illustrate will help make the lesson more applicable.
Want to know where to begin with Intentional Character Training Curriculums? Here are my favorite g0-to’s!
The first three on the list are ones that I wrote to provide fun, hands-on learning that made the lessons applicable for younger kids. The other ones listed are what we used for our kids as they got a little bit older, or that I highly recommend.
Character Training Curriculum Suggestions for Your Home or Homeschool
There you have it! These 6 tips for intentional character training plus ideas for character curriculum will help you provide a strong foundation of Godly character for your child.