Helping your kids build good character starts here
By Heather McMillan
Taking the Character Assessment as a mom is…fun?
A bunch of years ago, when my kids took this “test” for the first time, I took it too. We had to laugh, because, they don’t just look like me, they have a few of my character flaws too.
Good thing we were talking about growing, and about “not being perfect.”
I saw on paper that there was one pretty big issue I’d let find it’s way into my life, and my parenting was no exception.
I was impatient.
With myself and with my kids.
It was a good opportunity for me to ask them to forgive me.
I really wanted to tell them “I want to become patient, so please let me know when I am not.” But I was scared to! They were nice about it, when I finally did!
I remember praying, “God, what do I need to do to be a peaceful mom? I’m so stressed!”
He told me “Stop rushing and stop hushing.”
Brilliant! That has stayed with me!!!
First steps in lasting change
The first step in creating lasting change in the character and hearts of our children is to complete the Character Assessment form with them.
This gives you an opportunity to open a dialogue with your kids about these important heart issues, and it helps both of you to be thoughtful about the character issues that you face.
If you haven't already, grab the assessment by clicking below and let's get started.
Getting the most out of the Character Assessment
Here are some steps for you and your kids…to get the most out of the Character Assessment.
- Print one form for every member of the family. If you have preschoolers, I suggest you modify the list to these three virtues: I am Obedient, I am kind, I am Helpful. This will be plenty challenging for them to understand and practice.
- There are twelve virtues, each with a positive and negative description. To begin, each person simply circles a number between one and ten on each line. You can help them or give them instructions to do it on their own.
HEATHER’s TIP: A personal suggestion is that before you begin, explain that you are NOT looking for ones or tens.
Ones are just too low…for anybody!
Tens are too high, because there is always room to grow more.
This little assessment is more about growing than it is about being perfect at something. You just want to know what your kids think and feel about their own character. Removing the extremes takes the pressure off.
After the character assessment1. After the assessment is finished, take time to talk with each child, individually or as a family. Here are some questions I think would be helpful to ask. Sharing your own answers with them could be a great leadership tool.
- How did you feel about this activity?
- Do you know that we love you and we’re excited to help you grow in your virtue?
- Are you excited to see so many areas where you are doing well?
- What virtues are easy for you? (You might tell them if you agree and give an example of a time they used one or two of them.)
- What virtue are hard for you? (You might tell them if you agree. See if they can come up with an example of a time they needed that virtue and didn’t use it.)
2. Work with each child to establish target numbers. If they are at a five, encourage them to try for a seven. Obviously, it is not about a number, but about “What can I do today that will give me practice?” When we practice, we grow.
3. Perhaps once a quarter, when you have spent time working on all the virtues for a week or so each, you should re-assess and do a little comparison. Celebrate the wins! I struggled with diligence and honesty my whole childhood, so it was a pretty big deal when I started making progress!
As I mentioned, I suggest you share results but don’t compare results between family members.
Each child should be handled carefully, lovingly. Character is not a win or lose, it is a process of maturity we will all be in for the rest of our lives. (Yep. It’s never too late)
Make character assessment special
The time we spend having conversations with our kids one-on-one about character can be very special.
A great character conversation starts with layers like an Oreo cookie. That is, begin with some encouragement, make any corrections you need to make, and then finish off with more encouragement…and maybe even a real Oreo cookie!
They will love their virtue time, and it will make a difference in their lives and in your relationship with them forever.
So, get out there, brave mama! Take your Character Assessment… your kids will love you for it.