Monday, January 18, 2010

Ask Auntie Anne: How to Raise a Moral Child

So I have this great little 5 series of books called "Let's Ask Auntie Anne" from the Ezzo's. Each book has a specific topic and is told in story format. The one I read today was "How to Raise a Moral Child". Here are some great points made in the story:

* Moral virtue training applies to all your children, however the way you teach moral virtues to each of your children may be different. Being honest, kind, patient, obedient, the constant just the way you teach it may be variable depending on your child's temperament. For example, teaching one child what it means to be honest should mean the same to you other child, just maybe the way you go about teaching it could be different. The meaning of being honest doesn't change depending on who your are (at least it shouldn't!).

* In order to instill moral virtues in your child's heart, you first have to have them in your own heart. This goes back to one of my favorite sayings from Chip Ingram "More is caught than taught!". You can talk and teach and train all you want about each of the virtues until you are blue in the face, but if they don't see those same virtues in you they won't bother demonstrating them in their own lives.

* When it comes to toddlers (this wasn't covered in this particular book but in other of Ezzo's material) actions proceed beliefs. You will not have the heart of your toddler but you can start teaching them the actions of what kindness looks like, what obeying looks like, what being thankful looks like...getting to the heart of your child comes during the training years, starting around the age of 5 or 6.

* To truly instill moral virtues into your child, you really need to give the moral reason why we do things (yes, we need to believe the moral reasons why too!). This should start around the age of 3yrs old. When giving the moral reason why we are kind to others, for example, will help your child see in different circumstances the importance of being kind vs just seeing in the one scenario you say "you need to be kind" and nothing more.

This is what happened this afternoon with a boy that was throwing snow balls over our fence at my kids. First he wasn't even on his property, second he was throwing snow balls over our fence at kids younger than him, and thirdly when I said something to him about it, he just ran off. If his parents would have trained him properly in moral virtues explaining the reasons why we don't go on other people's property, why we are kind to others and not wanting to hurt people, and how to respect authority, that kid most likely wouldn't have been doing any of the things he did today. Yes, I admit it, it's hard work and it's much easier just to leave the TV on all day or hope that some teacher at school teaches my kids these things. But God has given us the instructions to train our children. We have a responsibility.

* Lastly when it come to moral training, we need to focus more on the behavior we are wanting to see from our children and not so much focusing on the behavior we don't want our children having. It made me think about potty training and how when training your child you praise and praise and praise how your child goes in the potty and you're excited and you tell daddy about as soon as he gets home and so on. You don't focus on the accidents that happened during the day or the number of clean ups you had. No, you focused on the behavior you were wanting your child to demonstrate - going in the potty. Just like moral training, we need to focus more on the behavior we either see our children actually doing or when we are teaching and training them it should be the positives - we are kind, we are honest, we are respectful...don't focus on the vice (we are never unkind, we should never lie, we should never be disrespectful).

This last point also made me think when it comes to training the behavior we want, we actually need to show them and demonstrate what each virtue means...I'll post more on that later. I have some ideas for our kindness week and trying to make our training times be more focused on the behavior I'm wanting to see in my kinds and not focused on the behavior I don't want to see...

Any Questions?

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