Where do I start?
By Heather McMillan
The self-discovery that happens during the process of taking the Character Assessment is just the beginning.
Hopefully, you have taken the time to have meaningful conversations with your kids about your character and theirs.
Maybe there has been some “aha moments” that prompted you to encourage each other in more meaningful ways. In case you are still stuck, I shared my tips for character conversations here.
Knowing where to start with virtues
I used to teach a little boy we’ll call “Champion” who absolutely struggled with self-control. He bounced from one thing to another leaving a chorus of “Ouch!” “Hey!” “Stop it!” in his wake.
I guess I was thinking about this aspect of his behavior when I sat down to help him take his Character Assessment. He was a first grader, so not quite able to do it without help.
At the time, I was assigning each child their own virtue to work on, and I suggested he choose “I am Gentle.”
When I did, he was visibly disappointed. “I wanted to work on ‘I AM DILIGENT!’ I also like ‘I AM PERSEVERANT!’”
It made me smile. I gained a new love for that kid. I told him he was so special, he could have two.
He was so proud; he told everyone “I’m getting two virtues!”
The twelve We Choose Virtues
There are twelve virtues in all and we often need to work on more than a few of them.
I am Attentive
I am Content
I am Diligent
I am Forgiving
I am Gentle
I am Helpful
I am Honest
I am Kind
I am Obedient
I am Patient
I am Perseverant
I am Self-Controlled
Here are some tips for ways to choose one to start with, for the whole family/class, or an individual.
The Character Assessment gives you some clues.
- Look over the Character Assessments and choose a virtue that seems easy for everyone, just to start off with quick success. That sounds nice!
- Choose one that you think can’t wait another minute! Did one just come to mind?
- Start with “I am Obedient”. You can never go wrong with that choice. It is really the bottom line of everything character related. You need it…for all of them!
- Let your family members take a turn choosing the virtue of the week.
How to begin teaching the virtues
Next, it’s time to define each virtue and then look for “teachable moments” -- every-day ways to practice it. I know that sounds a bit daunting. It’s ok!
We offer Parenting Cards with lesson plans for every virtue that take the guesswork out of it for you.
I suggest you focus on one of the twelve virtues for a week. Do it together as a family (or class) during morning time, or at lunch.
You will do this for twelve weeks and then start them again.
When I was raising my kids, it seemed like a week was long enough to get some deeper level practice done, but not long enough to start getting seriously bored with it. ;-)
One other reason to switch that often…it gives that child who is REALLY struggling a break when they need it.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a little reprieve from the pressures of growing up -- unless you’re like my little Champion, who could do two!