If you’ve already instilled character training for preschool and elementary kids, you’re off to a good start. But if you find that those areas are lacking, keep focusing on them. However, if you’ve seen those areas through already there’s more character training for tweens and teens that you can do. In either case, here’s a list of areas to begin focusing on for this stage.
Understanding Tweens and Teens
To begin with, do you know that the idea of tweens and teens is a myth? In his article The Myth of the Teenager, Dr. Michael Platt explains the history about how we got the identifier of teen. While children in these age ranges go through a lot of changes, we need to see them for what they truly are: youth.
In his article, Myth of the Teenager, Dr. Michael Platt explains what youth’s want: “A youth wants to be trusted, given responsibility, and the opportunity to deserve esteem. Youths make more mistakes than adults. Usually their mistakes lead to lighter consequences, but they suffer more from them than adults; they like their mistakes less; they feel more shame. Shame is the other side of the respect they have for the virtues they see in adults… Good youths like good tests. They want to enjoy adult pleasures after they have earned them by performing adult duties.”
By definition trust means, “Something committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered. Every man’s talents and advantages are a trust committed to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable.” Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Therefore, as a part of character training for our youth, we need to help our children discover what their gifts and talents are. For God has trusted our youth with stewardship of their gifts and talents and as parents, we’re entrusted with our children by Him. So, we need to help guide them in God’s calling on their lives.
Additionally, youth need tasks to manage. This can be other people (siblings, grandparents, neighbors), pets or even simple chores around the house. God designed us to need human connection and has given us the role of caring for others. But youth still need guidance and wisdom from us, so we simply need to help them navigate their roles.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines responsibility as, “The state of being accountable or answerable, as for a trust or office, or for a debt.”
For the most part, our youth want and need to be held accountable. Even when they’re testing and pushing, they’re looking for the security of boundaries that you establish for them. Those boundaries directly relate to their accountability and being answerable to you. Setting boundaries varies from child to child and family to family, but they are necessary to help guide them as they learn, grow and explore the world around them. Boundaries are not meant to stifle them, but to nurture them as they mature. As they get older, typically boundaries loosen and more responsibility is expected.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines esteem as, “High value or estimation; great regard; favorable opinion, founded on supposed worth.”
What a better time to build them up for the positive that we do see in their efforts? And to praise them for their own merits? Youth want to know they are not only loved, but valued. That what they do matters. Learning your child’s love language is a great place to start showing them how much they are loved and appreciated. Speak volumes to them, but in their language!
Parenting is an ever-evolving process. As our children grow and mature, our parenting style must adapt with them. As children age and mature, trust, responsibility and esteem will naturally flow into areas of teamwork, appreciation, gratitude, and hope. Ultimately, they need loving and caring parents like you to help shape them, give them opportunities, and to hope with them for their future.
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