Building From the Ground Up: Teaching Character Traits to Young Ones

When I reflect on the way I have taught my children, and others, character traits I think… how does God teach me? There are two main ways that God teaches us to be more like Him – through Scripture and Holy Spirit.

In Nehemiah 9:20 it says, “You also gave Your good spirit to instruct them…” When I have asked Holy Spirit for help, He has taught me how to handle even the toughest of situations. He has also shown me which consequence is proper for a particular situation, when to give grace for an honest mistake, versus something done deliberately, and how to put things in terms they understand. I am very grateful that Holy Spirit gives me the words to say to my children and students. Only He knows their heart, and how to reach it for His glory.

Through reading the Bible, Jesus gave us perfect examples to follow by the way He lived, spoke, and relied on Holy Spirit. He experienced every human emotion & temptation while He was here on earth. We are blessed to have these examples written down for us to read and learn from. We, as adults, have the awesome responsibility to pass Jesus’ examples down to our young ones. For example, if I am to say “be kind” like it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, but my children already know I’m in a foul mood, they are watching me very closely to the way I am treating them, as well as others. Am I being joyful (1 Thessalonians 5:16) even though I am in a foul mood? On the other hand, am I making the world around me pay for what I am enduring? I can honestly say I am not perfect in this, and my only consolation prize is knowing that I can turn this into a teachable moment for my children and students.

I can demonstrate to my students what it is like to ask for forgiveness when I am not at my best. I can be open with them so they can see God’s faithfulness by calling on Him aloud when I am failing. I already know He will take care of me and be my strength so I can do the right thing. (Psalm 73:26) I ask them for forgiveness when I get snippy and openly ask God for forgiveness so they can hear. In the process, they see that He refills me with HIS joy & how He sustains me in my weakness. I take solace in knowing that my students are seeing Jesus glorified in my weakness. The process is humbling but it is worth it when they can see that building character is not just a “kid thing” and it takes constant reliance on the Lord.

When explaining Scripture, give children practical examples of situations they can relate to. For example, “Remember when you disobeyed and Suzie got hurt?” Or, “How did that make you feel when your friend wasn’t waiting patiently for their turn?” Deuteronomy 14:2 declares, “For thou are a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” Our children need to know that it is God who want us to be this way — special, set apart, and different — not because the adults in their life want an easier day.       

There is so much pressure these days to be a perfect parent, teacher, boss, and every other adult title that we hold. So, as we teach these young ones, remember they are just smaller versions of ourselves — we are all in the process of learning, and, thankfully, there is grace in the process.

By: Holly White, K4 Teacher, Faith Christian School


Rachel Jones
Rachel Jones is a former classroom preschool teacher at Faith Christian School. She has an elementary education degree and currently teaches private piano lessons, preschool music at Faith West, and cares for her husband and toddler. Rachel and her husband have been a part of the FCS & Faith Church ministry since 2011.