Growing Your Child’s Character during a Summer Vacation
By Sylvia Cochran- Christian Parenting –
There is a lot of talk about the summer brain drain.
Children forget some of the hard-won scholastic knowledge that they garnered over the course of the last school year. Yet what about the child’s personal development? While fighting brain drain, do not forget to also work on growing the child’s character during the lazy days of summer!
Define areas of your child’s character that need to mature. If she plays it a little too fast and loose with the truth, working on honesty is a good idea. Other character traits to check are kindness, loyalty, perseverance, respect for authority and integrity.
Choose one area to improve. Do not try to revamp your child’s entire character over the course of the summer vacation. Opt for the most pressing character flaw that you perceive. For some it may be honesty; others may notice that a child has a very hard time respecting authority and obeying teachers. Still another parent might find that the child will start a good many projects and activities, but finish next to none of them. Pick one area and devote time and effort to correcting it or at least shaping it.
Shape the child’s character by changing yourself. If your child has a difficult time respecting authority, there is a good chance that he learned this behavior from you. Rather than demanding obedience at school or camp, model respect for authority yourself. Quit badmouthing the baseball coach; stop bending the law to the breaking point and avoid berating the child’s other parent in the case of a disagreement. Coaches, police officers and the co-parent are all natural authority figures, but if junior sees you disregarding them, he won’t go out of his way to show respect and offer obedience.
Set up the child for success. It is the parent’s job to place a child in the positions required to grow the youngster’s character. For example, if the child needs to learn perseverance, it is up to the parent to put him in a position where achievement is doable but not necessarily easy. A summer class in music or chess, a stint with a sports team or any other kind of vacation activity that takes the child out of the comfort zone will do. At the same time, the stretch should not be severe; the child needs to be able to succeed with a fair bit of effort — but not a herculean attempt.
Capitalize on natural consequences. Punishment places the parent in the seat of the moral authority. While this may be necessary for a youngster of preschool age, it does not work well in the elementary school years. When the child enters middle school, punishment puts parents at odds with the child. Rather than assuming this position, let natural consequences take their course.
For example, a child who is notoriously late should be placed with a sports team that demands schedule adherence. Some gymnastics teams offer a 10-minute grace period, after which the child may not participate. If the child is late, have her sit out the hour-long practice session by watching the other children do the exercises. Sitting on the sidelines gets boring rather quickly, which hopefully inspires the youngster to work on timeliness next time around.
Growing a child’s character over the summer takes an investment of time, patience and also money. Persevere, and you will see some changes before school starts up again.
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