10 Days of Heart Parenting – Identifying Character Qualities to Address Problems

ID Character QualMy children tend to go through phases.  It seems we will be cruising along and things are generally just fine.  Sure we have our moments that need correction and even a melt-down here or there but the atmosphere in our home is overall positive.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere everything gets turned around.  With no notice one of my children will suddenly completely flip into this crazy child that I can’t even recognize!  We go from a positive atmosphere to one that isn’t even tolerable any more because I’m yelling and correcting every five seconds.  It isn’t fun and things spiral downward very quickly.

Let me describe a typical day when things have gotten out of hand.  It begins literally from the moment we wake up as the child who is going through a phase comes down the stairs first thing in the morning with a scowl.  He refuses to acknowledge my good morning as he passes into the kitchen.  Once there it is only moments before the wailing begins because it is pretty much guaranteed that whatever we are serving for breakfast isn’t what is desired.  The rest of the day is followed by Mommy reminding the child of EVERYTHING he needs to do and EVERY reminder is followed up by some sort of attitude, screaming fit, or stomping tantrum.  I find myself having put out fire after fire as the bad attitude leads to countless physical or verbal altercations with his siblings.  We throw fits over everything from school work, to cleaning the lunch table, to dressing for karate.  It can literally be nonstop, all day long, through every moment.  It’s exhausting for everyone.

Late at night I crawl into bed and look at my husband with bewilderment.  Where have I gone wrong?  So I resolve to just get more strict!  I’ll take no attitude or back talk and I’ll demand obedience and a good attitude.  I wake up the next morning resolved to whip this child into shape.  But Mommy’s tough resolve usually just makes things worse.  A day later I decide that I’ll just ‘chose my battles’ as they say.  I’ll just push through on what I deem to be important and let the rest slide.  But then, what battles should I choose?  There seem to be so many.  I’m just overwhelmed and doubting everything about my ability to parent.

Group The Negative Behaviors by Character Traits

I think one of the most solid pieces of advice I found in The Christian Parenting Handbook  is really quite simple.  During times like these sit down and write the long list of offenses you feel your child is committing, then group them into categories by positive character traits.  Suddenly, instead of working on 25 different issues all at once you are now more focused on just a few character qualities you’d like to see your child develop.   This makes things much less overwhelming. Plus, now instead of looking at everything your kid is doing wrong you can now refresh your perspective and see lots of opportunity for growth.

 Focus On What They Should Be Doing

Do you feel like your child is acting out so much that you never have anything positive to say to them.  “I told you no!” “Stop it!” “Cut it out!” “What’s the matter with you?”  Oh that’s me!  All day long sometimes!  These words just leave me feeling drained, and tired.  I just want my child to straighten up already so I don’t have to be so mean and negative all of the time!

Now I’m training myself to focus on the positive character quality I’m trying to develop with my child.  The example I’m about to give you is actually addressed very literally in the book.  It is one of the first issues I decided to tackle and The Christian Parenting Handbook helped me so much! We have an issue in this house with interrupting.  My children will just interrupt any conversation at any time.  They also don’t tend to notice when Mommy or Daddy are busy on the phone, reading something, writing etc.  They just burst into the room and start rambling off at a million miles an hour.  My knee jerk reaction to is say something like “Haven’t I told you a million times not to interrupt Mommy when I’m on the phone? How come you never listen to me?”  Ouch huh?  My child was probably just really excited to tell me all about some new Lego creation and I just totally burst their bubble and most likely made them feel like I don’t find what they are excited about exciting too.  They’ll just remember Mommy didn’t want to know about what was important to them.  They probably won’t remember not to interrupt.

I decided I needed to help my children learn to be sensitive to what was happening before they engaged someone in conversation.  In a calm moment I explained to them that before they spoke they needed to take a look at what was happening and listen to what was being said.  If Mommy and Daddy were talking to each other, are on the phone, or if we look like we are concentrating on something then they need to say “Excuse me” and then WAIT quietly.  We practiced this a bunch of different times and in a bunch of different ways.  After that when they interrupted I quickly stopped what I was doing, asked them if they are being sensitive and then told them to try again. Over all, interruptions have become less and less and the correction I need to give has become simpler.  Eventually I just had to say one word… “Sensitive?”  and they would correct themselves.  We are getting to the point now that when the odd interruption does occur I can just raise my eyebrows at them with my “Mommy look.”

I also have taken care to point out the times when they really got it right.  A smile, a hug, a “Thank you for waiting until Mommy could really listen to you.”  These go a long way towards helping our children understand the right way to behave .


In The Christian Parenting Handbook the author’s point out something I just know I don’t do enough.  Actually it had never even occurred to me to do this until I saw the words on the page.  The suggest that as children grow and start demonstrating the godly character that we all pray they develop, that you point it out to them.  Let them know you recognize the person they are becoming.  This will help them see the positive character traits in themselves as well.  

I personally think that if you can teach your child to think of themselves as a good kid with godly character then they will generally grow up to be just that.  A good kid with godly character.  That’s pretty much the ultimate goal isn’t it?

I guess I can sum all of this up by saying that it pays to step back and find a way to pull yourself out of the constant negativity. Look at issues as opportunities for growth.  When growth does occur make sure you let your children know that you see it.  With time positive change will occur.



  1. ooh…. I like it. 🙂

  2. Great post Crystal. We can get so focused on the problems and annoying actions of our kids that we forget to dream about the character qualities that we want to see developed in them. We need to take a long-term view. Thanks for directing our eyes in this direction.

  3. Thanks for shaing your thoughts oon 10 days of heart
    parenting. Regards

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