Challenges to Teaching Virtue #1
What are some of the challenges parents face when trying to teach Virtue? The first challenge to teaching virtue is that character is often taught in a negative and stressful atmosphere. I think this is because we tend to combine character training with correction exclusively. Think about when you were a child. When were you taught to obey? Most of us would say it was when we were being disobedient. This is, after all, a good time to do it because we have a clear example of what not to do. Only teaching Virtue during discipline might make it take on a negative vibe, so when we bring it up, our children become defensive and feel like they can't do anything right. Believe it or not, this can lead to deep resentment and rebellion. I am NOT suggesting you don't teach it then, just don't ONLY teach it then. Here are some tips to help.
- Discipline has a vital role, but it should come after there is understanding and a little practice. It really makes a huge difference! Explain the Virtue. Talk about what Virtue IS not just what it is NOT. Why is perseverance so wonderful? How will it help my relationships or my future? If it doesn't help me at all at the moment, why should I still choose to use it?
- Talk about Virtue when someone is getting it right! just make a big deal about that!
- Talk about Virtue when you observe it in the world around you, in the conflict in a book you are reading or a show you are enjoying.
- Plan a time each day to talk about it. Being intentional builds security and confidence that the standard is secure and not based on the mood of someone in authority.
- We Choose Virtues approaches character training by intentionally creating a positive, even fun atmosphere. (Shameless plug for our Parenting Cards!)
- If you are clearly not conquering patience, it would be good to talk about it with your family, ask forgiveness and show some encouraging signs of change before you make a huge deal about it in the life of your child or spouse. Perhaps you could work on it as a family!
- If you talk about Virtue simply ALL the time, you might wear our your listeners' ears. If you are prone to being excessive, try to pace yourself. I tend to be this way!
- Character takes a lifetime to develop. Even as their parent, you are not the last person in your child's journey that will teach them Virtue, so that should be encouraging! Don't feel you have to talk about it every minute of the day to catch up.