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How Discussions, Quotes, and Compliments Build Character in Kids
By Jean Tracy, MSS
If quotes and compliments could help raise strong children with powerful characters, would you use them? If discussions about right and wrong boosted a peaceful conscience, would you hold them? Read on to find out how.
How Character Weakens:
Imagine a kid named Calvin respecting his popular friends too much. Perhaps he steals candy, bullies younger kids, or cheats in school just to be liked. Calvin respects his friends more than himself.
If there is a kid like Calvin in your child's school, use this quote to discuss the boy's behavior:
"Some people have so much respect for their superiors that they have none left for themselves." ~ Peter McArthur
Make the point that it's difficult to respect yourself if you follow the crowd and misbehave.
Ask, "What could Calvin do to feel respect and strengthen his character?" Listen well. Find out what your child really thinks.
How Doing Wrong Becomes a Burden:
Pretend Tiffany stole her friend's new game. She thought it would make her happy. But now she can't play the game with her friend. She hides it from her mom to avoid being questioned. The game becomes a burden. Her conscience is bugging her. Tiffany tries not to think about it.
Discuss How Thoughts and Feelings Can Hurt
When kids do wrong, it often hurts the way they think and feel about themselves. This is their conscience at work. Use this quote to discuss Tiffany's pain:
"A man can stand a lot as long as he can stand himself." ~ Axel Munthe
What might be some negative thoughts that torture Tiffany? Is her troubled conscience worth the misdeed? What can she do to help herself?
How Self-Respect Is Threatened:
Think about a boy named Carl who hates being put down by his classmates. They call him a wimp' for not smoking with them. If Carl gives in, he endangers his self-respect.
Discuss the Importance of Protecting Self-Respect:
Explain to your child that Carl's self-respect is his good opinion of himself. Use this quote to discuss how Carl could protect it:
"They cannot take away our self-respect, if we do not give it to them." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Ask, "What can Carl do to keep his self-respect? Could that protect his conscience too? How?" Listen well. Find out what he thinks.
Look for the Good in Your Child with Compliments:
"Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power." ~ Clint Eastwood
To increase your child's real power, look for the good in your child. Encourage that behavior.
1. If your son chooses to do the right thing and not follow the crowd, tell him, "I admire your self-discipline by choosing better friends."
2. If your daughter apologizes and gives back the toy say, "I'm pleased you had the strength to give it back."
3. If your boy leaves the kids who tease him for not smoking, tell him "You kept your self-respect and I'm proud of you."
Conclusion ~ How Discussions, Quotes, and Compliments Build Character
Use quotes to help kids think about right and wrong. Discuss how misbehaviors create thoughts and feelings that undermine character. And talk about the importance of protecting self-respect.
Give positive comments to empower your child to do the right thing. And finally, enjoy raising a child whose conscience is peaceful and character is strong.
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Jean invites you to pick up 51 moral dilemmas for your family discussions from our Dilemma Discussion Kit The best time to build character is now.