Tuesday Triumphs: Character development

Just last week, a parent who frequently volunteers in William’s classroom complimented me on his character. She said, “William is such a confident child, but he’s sweet and kind-hearted, not arrogant.” Her implication was that confidence often brings out arrogance and that William proves that the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Her comment made me smile, of course, but more than that, it made me wonder what it is that makes him this way. There’s no doubt that he is confident. And he is a very sweet child.

When I think of his confidence in school, I immediately feel validation for our decision to delay Kindergarten. His birthday is just two weeks before our state’s cut-off date, so no matter which way we went, he was going to be either the oldest or the youngest. There was no middle ground. His first year of pre-K, he was the youngest. His immaturity was blatant. His second year of pre-K (same school, same teachers), he was one of the oldest, and his teachers (and I) were amazed by what a different child he was. The confidence and maturity he gained made all the difference.

But aside from his age compared to his classmates, I knew there was more, especially since he is in a mixed-age class right now. I know that I would never accept arrogance from my child, but how exactly did that translate in a way that an outsider would notice? What I couldn’t figure out was whether this is just his personality or whether I did something as a parent to encourage this in his character. Then I picked up my copy of Childwise, and the first page I turned to gave me my answer:

“Certainly a child is born with a particular temperament on which personality is built. However, these do not excuse a child from appropriate character training. The combination of virtues instilled in a child’s heart must be the same [no matter his inborn temperament].

Character, in fact, is not about a person’s temperament or personality. It is the quality of a person’s personality and the moral restraint or encouragement of his temperament. It is the outward reflection of the inner person. Our character reflects our morality and our morality defines our character. They are inseparable,” (pg. 89-90).

To be honest, I have never consciously worked on William’s character. I remember once finding a list of character qualities and wanting to incorporate them into our daily routine, but it never really happened. What I think happened is that by implementing the Ezzos’ parenting philosophies, building his character became a natural by-product of all of the other work we had been doing.

The book makes it clear that we are to teach our children to respect authority, respect property, treat others with kindness and encourage service to others. By spelling out the character traits we should instill in our children, the Ezzos have validated all of the traits that I have always wanted in my boys. And not only do they spell it out, they give me a road map to achieving it.

Ultimately, what this shows me is that the relatively minor details of my parenting—like developing a schedule, defining a discipline plan and working towards first-time obedience—are all part of a much bigger effort in character development. I’m happy to see that it’s all working as I had hoped.

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3 Comments

Filed under moral training, Tuesday Triumphs

3 responses to “Tuesday Triumphs: Character development

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Tuesday Triumphs: Character development | Childwise Chat -- Topsy.com

  2. Sheryl

    I wasn’t sure if I felt inspired or totally useless reading this weeks triumph. I have a 32 month old that is giving me all I can take at this stage. I loved reading the bit about character is the moral restraint or encourgement of the temperament because I asked myself that just this week. Im trying so hard to be consistant with my training but Im not sure if it’s his age or his temperament but he is not showing many signs of ‘getting it’. I can only pray that oneday I also see the beautiful fruits that William displays in my son. 🙂

  3. Maureen

    Hi Sheryl. Don’t be discouraged. Parenting is a process. Remember that you cannot expect 100% first-time obedience from a two-year-old. I don’t remember the percentages off-hand, but if you strive towards 100% but only expect 60%, then you won’t drive yourself mad. Keep up with your consistency and be sure you are setting him up for success. Read back through some old posts for some ideas. Above all, know that you will get there soon enough. 🙂

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