It is sad to say, but another school year is about to begin. At our house we are scrambling to finish summer reading, shocked once again that our good intentions of finishing that assignment early did not pan out.
Once I wrap my brain around the fact that my beloved summer is coming to a close, I always get a little bit excited about school starting back. I like the routine. It feels like “New Years” much more than January 1. My teacher genes kick in and I start making mental lists of all the things I want my kids to learn. Yes, if I am not careful, I can be one of those over-achieving moms who wants to teach her toddlers to recognize famous paintings. But most of all, I want my kids to have integrity. I formed a whole company around that desire. (www.integritytime.com, if your are interested!) So, character lessons are of upmost importance in my heart.
I remember the day when the high-pitched sound of little girls playing found its way down the stairs and into the living room. Wow! They are having fun! I thought somewhat nervously. A bit later, my almost-four-year-old, Sally, came into the room urgently requesting water. “You have to come now, Mama! We need water.”
A little while later, I walked with my mouth wide open, unable to comprehend what I was seeing. Apparently, the girls had found an extra large bottle of baby powder and had turned the upstairs into a “winter wonderland”. Circles of white were found on every surface of the once-brown hardwood floors, evidence of the fun time of “skating” they had just experienced. Anna and Elsa would be proud. Puddles of milky-white water were also evidence of their attempts to clean up their mess.
The floor was mopped six times, and it still looked like a winter wonderland, although more like the snow dusting typical in North Mississippi. How can three little girls do so much damage in such a short amount of time? Obviously, we had an opportunity to teach some character lessons to our precious princess.
At a very early age, Sally is learning that just because it is fun, does not mean that it is right. She is learning how to ‘fess up to her mistakes, and how to take responsibility for her choices. She is learning how to clean up her messes, and make right what went wrong. Most importantly, she is learning how to say, “I’m sorry”—not just with words, but also with feeling. She is learning to take “I’m sorry” to the final step, by also asking, “Will you forgive me?” And of course, the answer is a responding yes!
Character lessons start at a very young age. As parents, we are daily confronted with teaching moments. If we see these situations as teaching moments which will help mold our children’s character, we will be less likely to react in anger and more likely to make the most of the situation.
As we sat on the couch, discussing the situation with our sweet angel, I had an unexpected feeling considering the moment we were experiencing. I felt extreme pride. She sat with her dark hair streaked with white powder, eyes wide and serious. And the first thing out of her mouth was, “I’m sorry. It was my fault.” Bingo! That is a life-long lesson learned. Well worth the bottle of baby powder it required.
I have often heard, and I whole-heartedly agree, that character is how you act when no one is watching. But I believe it is more than that. Character is how you react when you know you are wrong. Character is admitting you are wrong and taking full responsibility. Character is saying, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” Character is tested and proved in how you react to wrong choices as much as it is choosing what is right.
I am happy to report that Sally is back on the right road of character, at least until the next “teaching moment”.
How do you teach good character to your children?
PS If you want to check out a biblical approach to teaching integrity to your children or grandchildren, check out my program, Integrity Time Bible Lessons!