Starting the New Year: Character Counts

The New Year brings fresh hope. We think about new ideas and resolutions to improve our serve. Here’s a practical idea presented by Dr. Scott Turansky that you can use and share with your team and parents.

“When you feel overwhelmed by the poor behavior of your child, here’s an exercise that will give you some direction. In fact, this activity is good for any parent (or teacher) looking for ways to help a child grow, but it’s especially helpful when you’re confused and overwhelmed by a problem’s complexity or deeply-rooted nature.

“Start by making a list of the problems you’ve seen in your child in the last few days. This isn’t a list to show to your child but it’s a working list so that you can gain some perspective in your discipline. You’re looking for examples of problems that need to be addressed. Look for behaviors, their causes, and common arenas where the problem takes place. In this step, you’re simply gathering data and making observations.

“Next, group the offenses around character qualities. That is, look for common threads in the offenses that are an indication of a deeper heart issue. For example, you may be seeing selfishness demonstrated or meanness or lack of respect for authority.

“Next you want to name the positive quality your child needs. Possibly kindness, or responsibility, or honor, or respect for others.

“Once you have the character quality chosen, you can develop a practical definition for it and concrete ways to demonstrate the quality. Share this new quality with your child in a positive way, communicating hope in the process. Talk about what it means and how the child will benefit from this quality now and in the future. Then practice, practice, practice. Reinforce this new quality by sharing demonstrations of it in the lives of other people you know, and affirm your child when you see it. “I like to obedience I’m seeing” and “Doesn’t it feel good to be responsible and care for your hamster?”

“Behavior problems are temporary, but the character you work on in your child’s heart will help your child now and in the future.”

Most children learn Bible stories and key characters from their Sunday school or children’s church experience. But they also need to understand the eternal principles of God’s Word, and even more importantly, to know Him and to make Him known.

For example, Dorothea Lander, Children’s Communication Team Coordinator and Strategic Liaison for Wycliffe USA, writes, “I watched God’s Word transform one of our three children who struggled mightily with anger from a very early age. With horror we watched sibling interactions that involved screaming, hitting, and vicious scratching that even drew blood. Thankfully the other two siblings did not fight back. I chose key Bible verses which present the “positive side” of what God expects of us as His children. We used Ephesians 4:32, James 1:19-20, and Proverbs 15:1. Together we wrote them on 3 by 5 cards and memorized them. When an angry outburst did occur, we stopped immediately and pulled the cards out of our pockets on the spot. We read the verses. We prayed together, asking for forgiveness and for God to transform this sibling’s heart to think and act like God’s Word instructed. Every night at bedtime we talked over the day, recited the verses again, and talked about how the Scripture had applied that day. I watched the Holy Spirit use God’s Word to begin convicting of sin within that first week! Tears began to flow over outbursts instead of blaming others. In just over one month, God transformed this child of ours, through His powerful, life-changing Word. For years now, this grown child has acknowledged the overwhelming struggle with anger, and the permanent, powerful transformation God’s Word brought about.”

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Dr. Scott Turansky. Biblical Parenting. Web. 2012.

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