Character building in elementary aged kids creates some unique challenges for parents who want their kids to develop Godly character. I have noticed, with my own son, three areas that have significantly changed as he’s grown.
First, that complaints and grumbling have crept in as his responsibilities within our home have increased. The novelty of being grown up enough to help with the chores has pretty much worn off. Second, I am more acutely aware of his eyes on us as parents. I have to be transparent about my own faults at all times because I am modeling behavior, good and bad. And third, his friendships have become much more important to him. Friends, of course, can influence us in negative and positive ways. Having an understanding of what a good friendship looks like is important for kids this age when it comes to character.
These are three areas that have needed to be addressed in my own home with my elementary aged child. Below I have shared ideas and examples from my own life about character training in this age group.
Here are 3 ways for real life character building in your elementary aged kids
Real life character building in elementary aged kids hurts a little
Chores provide a fantastic opportunity for character training. Here are two scenarios that happened in our home recently.
1. My son came to me after shower time one night and said he didn’t have any clean underwear.
This is what I said to him:
Wait, You didn’t bring all of your dirty laundry to the laundry room before I washed the clothes?
No? Well, then I’m sorry that you’re wearing an old pair of underwear from the back of the closet that doesn’t fit well. Yeah, I saw you fidgeting there. But, I already ran the laundry today and I won’t be doing another load. You’ll have to deal and do a load of your clothes in the morning.
Through this instance, my son has gained a deeper understanding of how nice it is when mom does his laundry for him and I didn’t have to do anything, except not do his laundry for him.
2. For quite some time my son has been complaining about having to load or unload the dishwasher.
I was getting fed up with hearing it, thinking of all the times I had done dishes by hand in the past when I didn’t have a dishwasher. That’s when it dawned on me. I would “break” the dishwasher. I was thinking for a day or so, but it actually only took one hour and a sink-full of dishes for my son to realize that he really liked having a dishwasher. Something as simple as having to do dishes by hand really puts things in perspective.
Both of these situations are natural consequences that will make logical sense to your kid. You don’t do anything overt to get your point across. Just not fixing the problem and what’s making them uncomfortable is helping to build their character.
Your transparency is real life character building in your elementary aged kid
We all mess up. And as parents, we are in the position of being sinful people teaching other sinful people how to act. The mirror can be a scary place when you’re a parent. But, I know that God doesn’t expect perfection from me or my children and I get to share that truth with them. I try to show my kids how God is working on me by asking their forgiveness when I mess up and by modeling transparency in my struggles. Just be yourself, transparent and honest. Be human, a broken and sinful but restored human.
Teach real life character building through friendships
We can’t talk about friendship without talking about character. “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” Proverbs 27:19 A person’s actions will reflect their heart.
As my son has gotten older, friendships have had increasingly more meaning to him. We want him to make wise choices in friendships throughout his life. So, we have made talking about what a good friend looks like a priority. One of the most important things about looking at the character of a potential friend is whether or not they make a habit of sin. There is a very large distinction between sinning and making it a regular, consistent part of life.
Teach kids how to deal with their own faults by not making a habit of their sin. This is essential to being able to recognize this in their potential friends and it will help them steer clear of those relationships.
I’ve compiled a printable list of bible verses for you to share with your kids about friendship. You can download them by subscribing to my Free Resource library below. They are great for use in discussions and further study with your children on the topic of friendship. FREE Friendship Bible Verses
What I’ve Learned about Real Life Character Building in Elementary Aged Kids
I’ve found that simple is best. It’s got to be easy and quick to implement or my follow-through suffers. That’s why I love a natural consequence when it comes to my parenting. The mundane daily tasks of life have been an easy place to look for ways to build godly character in my elementary aged child.
Being transparent and upfront about my own struggles has given me credibility with my kids when it comes to character issues.
Taking the time to teach my child about what a real friendship should look like has made a difference in how my son looks at potential friendships. These are the ways I have found work best and that I am able to be consistent about.
How do you teach real life character building in your elementary aged kids?
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I’m Heidi, a perfectly imperfect woman, wife, and homeschooling mama who lives each day by the grace Jesus provides and a strong pot of coffee. We are a full time Rving family and spent last year roadschooling across the United States and loved every minute of it! I love National Parks and spending time with my family seeking out new adventures. https://www.poolnoodlesandpixiedust.com/