Character training in preschool and elementary children helps lay a foundation for character training in the teen years. And while this may sound a little intimidating, let me show you how to gently begin this important labor of love.
Understanding Preschool and Elementary Children
To begin with, this age range consists of young people still rather new to the world. Because they’re soaking in so much of their surroundings, they can easily feel overwhelmed. Plus, through observation and immersion in their environment, they’re trying to understand how things work. With this in mind, patience and perspective are needed when teaching character to young children.
First, teaching them about Jesus from the Bible is huge. Because you’re reading directly from God’s Word, it helps to establish in their minds that God is the ultimate authority.
Second, talking with them about Christ’s character is important. And this can be done when reading from the Bible and explaining what happened. Next, talk with them about why Jesus’ responded the way that did. Of course, you’ll need to adjust your vocabulary according to individual children.
Third, lead by example. As I mentioned earlier, children are seeing a lot of action and interaction from you. Therefore, it’s important that you model love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.
As you spend time with your children, setting the example and standard of following through helps set them up for success. Naturally, expectations are different by age and the individual child. The point is to faithfully teach your child to enjoy the rewards of constant effort to accomplish whatever undertaking is at hand. Whatever his or her age.
Other Early Aspects of Character Building to Consider Instilling
Aside from the Fruits of the Spirit, other early aspects of Biblical character building in young children are:
- Perseverance. Galatians 6:9 teaches us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (ESV) Certainly, there are times when young people and adults alike want to give up. But in our calling to doing good things, we’re to persevere.
- Leadership. 1 Timothy 4:12 teaches us, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (ESV) In a hurting world, it’s important to teach young children that they too can lead. Plus, their individuality as very young people may inspire older people to walk uprightly.
- Gratitude. Psalm 136:26 teaches us, “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (ESV) How important to begin teaching our young children their need for a Savior. And to give thanks to God for His mercy.
- Encouragement. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 teaches us, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (ESV) Our job as parents is to encourage our children and build them up in Godly character. Building up our children from an early age, will cement their worth in Biblical truth, rather than worldly lies.
It Won’t Happen Overnight
As we aspire to raise children with Biblical character, we can easily feel discouraged when it doesn’t happen immediately. But keep in mind that it doesn’t for adults either. And each of us still have areas to self-govern under Christ. Regardless of age, we all have areas to grow. And practicing patience with our children and ourselves is key.
So, while it won’t happen overnight, we can hope in the Lord that the seeds of character we take care to plant will grow.
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