In the last episode, I defined the heart. That place inside each one of us that processes and holds beliefs, values, emotions, and choices. God tells us to guard our heart. We are to guard the things that go into our heart because what goes in comes out. So today we are talking about putting in values or another way of saying that is putting in character – good treasure in the heart. And with this top tip you will be able to parent the heart in any situation. 

Key idea for teaching the heart:  Character is the quality of our response to people or circumstances consistent with our moral values.

Includes links to Character definitions for your reference – Action Steps at the end of the post.

 

Character is one of those words that different people define in different ways.  Over the years I’ve started to define it as the quality of our response to to define it as people or circumstances consistent with our moral values.  

Character is how we act.  We have character when we act the same way over and over and over.  We can actually have good character or bad character – we don’t usually talk about bad character but it is a thing.  Good or bad character would depend on if our choices were based on virtues or vices.  

I am sure there are some values you instinctively want for your kids. You want them to be honest and truthful, friendly and caring, responsible, diligent and patient. These are virtues that our society values and as such we know that they are things we want for our kids. We know that they’ll do better in life if they have these things in their life. 

How to Intentionally Teach the Heart

But how do we teach them in a way that these values become a part of what is in their heart – becomes that treasure that directs their choices, day in and day out?  

The number one tip I have for you today is to bring everything back to a character trait. Whenever you engage or give an instruction or talk about their actions – I want you to bring the conversation back to a character trait.

  • You want your child to pick up their toys – it is an opportunity to teach remind encourage the character choice of orderliness 
  • You want them to stop hitting and do kind things with their hands – see the character trait of kindness is already in our thinking. 
  • You want them to use their words or change their attitude. You can talk about respect.

What you are doing is connecting choices or actions with a moral value, to a character quality. 

My recommendation is that if you have young kids – start with love or kindness.  That covers a lot of stuff they deal with and you will recognise the need for understanding the importance of that moral choice.

If you have older kids – tweens and teens – then talk about respect. Respect for themselves, for others and for property.  

 

Use Words of Character

As you talk about a character quality by telling your kids

  • what it means, 
  • what it looks like in action and 
  • why it is important 

As you do this, you will build a moral language in your family.  The more you talk about actions and motivations for those actions using words of character then the more treasure you are putting in your kids hearts.  

 

Its Heart Work not a Academic Lesson

Initially they will do the right thing because that is what you’ve taught them, 

Then their world starts expanding and there will be opportunity to make choices when you aren’t around – initially they’ll hear your voice in their head but eventually, as you talk about the why these actions are important, and the benefits of choosing good character actions – will sink into their understanding and they will start to choose this for themselves – they’ll start listening to their own conscience and making their own character based choices.

Remember – character is the response to people or circumstances based on your moral values.  

Intentionally teaching character in your family isn’t about sitting down and doing a lesson on it ( though you may want to do that) but the key is for you to understand the moral values that are behind the behaviour and choices you want in your family and for you to teach your children that this is why this behaviour or action is important.

  • We speak about patience because that is one way we love others.
  • We speak about orderliness because that is how we care for our stuff.
  • We speak about punctuality because that is how we use our time wisely.  

See the connections?

The more you think about the values or virtues behind the actions you want to live out yourself, or see in your kids lives – the more familiar you will be with the words of character.

As we teach our kids how to make character-based choices we are building up their moral capacity. We are equipping them by giving them an understanding of what is the right thing to do.  And we are giving them practice by helping them do the right thing.

This is what it means to parent the heart – we are putting in good treasures in their heart.  And when they act on those moral values – they have good treasure – good actions coming out of their heart.

 

Top Tip for Heart-focused Parenting

So to review… top tip for today. Bring everything back to a character trait when you are giving instructions to your kids. Use those words when you teach instruct encourage and praise them. 

One of the things you’ll hear me say is that being an intentional, relational, heart-focused parent requires vision, conviction and lots of hard work!

 So if you want to see change in your family you’ll have to put in the work.  That’s what I’m here for – I don’t just want to give you information, but rather small steps that you can work on and step by step see that change happening in your family – from the heart to the actions.  

 

Heart Focused Action Step:

This week I want you to think of something that has been a struggle in your family – don’t pick on one child – think of something that either everyone is slack with or everyone will benefit from working on it.  

Think about the character trait that makes that action the right thing.  

Then spend a little time thinking about what that character trait means, what it looks like in actions in your child’s life and why it is important.  

Once you’ve done this hard work – then it is time to talk to your kids. Introduce them to the language of that specific character-based response.  Tell them why it is important and what it looks like when they choose to live with that character.  

 

Let me know if you are struggling to connect a virtue (or character trait) to the choices you want your children to make.  (leave a comment, email me, or connect over at Instagram.)

 

Download Character Definitions –

these are not my links (when you click you will leave my site)

Kids of Integrity (Focus on the Family)

Character Core  (both free and purchased material)

 

 

Bonus Offer:

If you have enjoyed the podcast please consider taking the time to write a review. This helps the podcast be found by other parents. As a thank you, I have a bonus Heart Booster Parenting Quiz based on 12 Parenting Skills for the Heart Focused parent, and a bonus audio dealing with that inner conflict where we know we need to change and yet still be content within ourselves so we aren’t driven to guilt and selfcriticism.  To get this Bonus Heart Booster you need to write a Podcast review, take a screenshot of it, and send it to me and I’ll send you the download!  The details of how to contact me are below.  (This bonus is available till end July 2022)

Email me:  belindaletchford [at] outlook.com
Direct Message: instagram.com/belindaletchford
Message Me: facebook.com/heartfocusparenting

Instructions on how to leave a Review here: link

 

Instructions on how to leave a Review here: link

 

Further Reading:

Why Christian Parents need to be Active with Character Education:  Character Education is important to Christian parents because it teaches our kids how to respond to life, how to choose right from wrong.

How to Teach Character to your Kids:  Character is a life skill that teaches our kids how to respond to people and circumstances; it is a life skill that will benefit them for life.

Don’t get Stuck on these Top 3 Character Traits:  When we focus on a few common character traits our children stop listening to us. All traits work with each other to express our value system.

Good Character won’t get you into Heaven:  Good character won’t get you into heaven, because character is not connected to salvation – but that doesn’t mean we should teach our kids what good character looks like.

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Reviews of Heart-focused Parenting Podcast

Great for parenting the heart...

I love that Belinda approaches her teachings and tips with the heart of the child as her primary concern. Behavior follows what’s been nurtured in the heart!
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Belinda’s heart-focused parenting content is gold when it comes to raising healthy, heard, and self-directed kids. I love how she mentors us moms too along the way. As she says, parenting is a journey. Since there is no playbook, we can all use the support and encouragement Belinda offers.
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