12 Character Traits I Want to Build in My Children

Who doesn’t want their kids to have a strong character?  I know I certainly do.  But “hoping” they develop good character traits and being intentional with building these are two different things.

Last year I began focusing on one character trait per month.  There are so many character qualities I want them to have and it just seemed overwhelming to focus on ALL of them at the same time.  So, breaking them down into monthly bite-size pieces just seemed to make sense to me.

I choose one character trait and one verse per month.

For example, this month’s word is ATTENTION.  Our verse is Proverbs 4:20-21:

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.”

I repeat this verse at least once a day for them to hear it and hopefully memorize it (mostly the 2 older ones).  As we go about our day, I will remind them often that God is asking them to pay ATTENTION to mommy.  We talk about paying attention with our eyes, our mouths, our ears and our hearts.  We played a game today on the swings where I was not listening to them, or looking at them and they had to tell me whether or not I was paying attention.  They were laughing and having fun.  I try to incorporate this mostly in our normal daily activities.

Honestly, many times, it doesn’t seem they are even listening to me.  (Toddlers and preschoolers tend to be great at tuning us out!)    But, then at some random point, Gavin will repeat what I’ve said or Annabella will repeat the verse with me and I’ll remember that they are absorbing it.  Repetition is key with little ones!  But then again, as God reminds me, repetition is key for me to learn as well!

And yes, there are days when I don’t even talk about our character habit.  We get busy and life happens and I forget.  I am learning God’s grace is sufficient.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.  Moving forward.  Staying in the game.  Trusting God.

12 Character Traits I Want to Build in My Children This Year

1. January: Trust.

Proverbs 3: 5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

2. February: Love.

Matt 22: 37-38 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

3. March: Attention.

Proverbs 4: 20-21 “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.”

4. April: Obedience.

Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (We did this one last year as well!  At my children’s ages, I feel this is worth repeating!)

5. May: Thankfulness.

1 Thes 5: 16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

6. June: Courage

Deut 31:6 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

7. July: Forgiveness

Luke 6:37 “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

8. August: Self-control

1 Pet 4:7 “Be self controlled and alert.”

9. September: Joy

Proverbs 15:30 “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” (Focusing on the importance of a smile)  And repeating 1 Thes 5:16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

10. October: Usefulness

1 Timothy 5:10 “She is well known for her good deeds…helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”

11. November: Gentleness

Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

12.  December: Serving

Gal 5:13 “Serve one another humbly in love.”

Resources for Habit and Character Training:

1. Laying Down the Rails for Children: A Habit Training Companion

2. ESP Character Training by Kim S. Doebler

3. 1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to God by Kathie Reimer

3. Pinterest

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I have more pins than I’ll ever do in my lifetime, but if I’m working on Thankfulness, for example, I will type in “teaching children thankfulness” and it can give me several ideas to implement that month. Pick a FEW ideas, and let the rest go.  You can’t do them all!

Charlotte Mason, in Laying Down the Rails, recommends changing habits every 6-8 weeks.  You might say, “Wow, that is only 6 habits per year!” But, if you consistently work on habits regularly, you will have instilled at least 60 strong character traits in your child in the course of their first 10 years.  Remember, training our children in strong character isn’t a race…it’s a marathon, it’s a journey.  We have 18 years to love on and train them.  I feel developing their habits and their character is one of the most important aspects of our parenting and worth the extra attention.

There are SO many character traits to build in our children.  Make your own list, be intentional and have fun!  Let me know what you are working on this year!

Remember, Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Share how you have helped to build your child’s character!  I would love to hear from you.




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