“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” – Proverbs 28:6
We can teach our kids lots of things.
We can teach them to tie their shoes, how to read, or even how to drive a car! We can even teach them manners.
But one thing that is by far the most difficult to teach?
Character and virtue. This stuff is not just outward behavior but related to our emotions and the condition of our hearts.
I often get confused between the difference between the two. According to encyclopedia.com, there is a distinction between the two:
"Virtue" is the translation of the ancient Greek arete, which meant any kind of excellence.
The word hexis, which Aristotle uses for "character," is the same word that denotes the habitual dispositions constitutive of the virtues. Character, therefore, indicates the stability that is necessary so that the various virtues are acquired in a lasting way.
Character is the foundation for which moral excellence (virtue) can be cultivated.
There are many mentions in the Bible of how one grows in character and virtue:
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5) [bold, mine]
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (1 Pet 1:5-7).
And then there are the fruits of the Spirit:
Love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control... (Gal 5:22-23)
For simplicity's sake, I'm lumping in all resources that help develop character and virtues together.
And not only that, I believe that emotional health is also tied into character and virtues.
So I'll add Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to this list as well.
These lessons are FREE from FOCUS ON THE FAMILY. They are resources for parents to download and go through it with your kids. Nothing beats FREE. Definitely worth checking out!
This is the legacy of Fred Rogers (who happened to be a pastor). After he passed away, the producers created Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. I believe even adults can learn something from this...
Little songs and jingles to help remind us:
When you're feeling frustrated... take a step back and ask for help.
When you feel jealous, talk about it, and you'll figure something out...
Don't you think even adults can benefit from watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood? I know I do! 🙂
This is a GREAT way to help cultivate better EQ (Emotional Intelligence)!
You can watch it for FREE on PBS Kids!
So I went a homeschool convention 5 years ago and heard Marilyn and Rick Boyer speak about how they teach their kids definitions of different character traits that they practice. Of course, many of the traits are common and we talk about those like patience, perseverance, etc... There were over 44 character traits listed!
But what caught my eye was that there are a few I've never ever thought much of before. Ones that stood out to me: deference, discretion, prudence...
And I had to look up their definitions in their workbook:
Deference: to hold others in esteem and give them first choice
Discretion: Avoiding any words, actions, or attitudes that could give appearance of evil
Prudence: Excercising caution in all situations; forseeing the consequences of my actions.
Each word was its own chapter, and each chapter would have its definition, reference a verse from the Bible that mentions it, and a few questions to help kids apply it in real life.
So I snagged the book right then and there at the convention. It's pretty much a basic no frills workbook. Pretty plain, really. But it is now on my desk as a reference for any character traits I need to help my kids grow in (ahem, and for myself as well)!
So if the above workbook (Kids of Character) is plain, We Choose Virtues is the complete opposite. It's bright, flashy, and fun!
However, it doesn't list nearly as many character qualities as the Kids of Character (above).
The virtues that they emphasize on include the following: diligence, helpfulness, perseverance, gentleness, contentment, attentiveness, honesty, kindness, self-control, patience, obedience, forgiveness...
This curriculum that makes it more fun with colorful images, helpful reminders, posters, stickers, flash cards, all the bells and whistles you could want or need.
Check it out: We Choose Virtues