Our habit of the week is COURAGE! I think that this is my favorite habit, as it seems to spur all other habits. It just takes an ounce of courage to be a better version of ourselves and live life more fully. Courage is that extra step just outside of comfort that leads us to a more fulfilling life and unexpected victories. Courage builds character, stretches capacity, and changes lives. Expressing confidence in our children and helping them to understand that risk and failure are essential to success motivates personal development and defeats fear.
Look for opportunities to celebrate courage. Spotlight characters from books and movies who act courageous. Most importantly, affirm your child when he/she uses an ounce of courage and chooses to do the next right thing even when it is scary. The American spirit has always relied on courageous thinkers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs. Our children are the next generation of great Americans as long as we encourage them. As the Duke (John Wayne) used to say, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”.
Help your child develop a courageous character this week by practicing the following ideas:
- Heart – respectfully introduce yourself to a new acquaintance.
- Mind – attempt a more difficult book or math problem.
- Body – try a new sport or hobby.
- Soul – discuss dreams and aspirations about the future and what courageous acts it takes to achieve those dreams!
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
“Trust the still, small voice that says, ‘this might work and I’ll try it.’” – Diane Mariechild
Discipline Do’s & Don’ts
Doing the next right thing is simply an act of courage. One of the most successful parenting questions I have asked my children has been, “What is the next right thing to do?” In almost every case my child knew the answer and acted accordingly. I never had to say more. If there was uncertainty, I simply asked another question to guide the child toward actions that promote integrity and citizenship. If discipline is really about learning, then asking meaningful questions is a powerful tactic. The more our children come up with the answers on their own, the greater the thinking power we discipline into them. The next time you want to give your child an answer, stop and ask them the question instead.
What would you do if…? Asking this question will force thinking and develop a thought pattern. If we expect our children to act with integrity, it must be taught directly. This is a gift that can last a lifetime. Integrity is the distance between our values and our actions. The closer they are tied, the stronger our integrity. Life’s ethical challenges provide the best lessons to clarify what it means to have integrity. Our example is the strongest lesson we can teach.
Here are five things we can do daily to show our children what integrity looks like:
- Apologize when you wrong your children.
- Speak with good purpose and avoid drama.
- Drive the speed limit.
- Keep your promises.
- Show respect to someone who may not be showing it to you.
Another effective way to promote integrity is to ask non-judgmental questions that force “thinking space”. My favorite question is “What’s the next right thing to do?” The space or pause creates positive neural pathways to be used when situations arise. “Front-loading” our children’s brains is a powerful way to help them think on their feet. Unfortunately, too much of our media has the same effect. Messages that promote unhealthy ethical and moral judgement also create neural pathways. We need to be a step or two ahead of the mixed messages from today’s media. Fortunately, there are plenty of day-to-day examples that challenge our integrity. These examples have a much more profound effect on your child than those on the screen. Don’t hesitate to share your strengths and struggles involving personal integrity. Solid examples and humble mistakes are realities, not fantasies. Like it or not, what you model will have the greatest impact on your child’s integrity and will counteract the influences from media messages.
“Wisdom is knowing the right path to take…integrity is taking it.” – M.H. McKee
“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” – Chinua Achebe
“To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” – Teddy Roosevelt
Our hand signal this week for integrity is to hold up both hands with our fingers spread apart. The left hand represents our heart, mind, body, and soul values. The right represents our heart, mind, body, and soul actions. The farther these two things are a part, the less integrity we have. Together, intertwined, we are strong and hold true to what is important and right.
Using the Character Counts traits to promote positive citizenship is a key way for us to unify our force to positively influence our children’s integrity. Being Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring make us TeRRiFiC citizens. When your child makes a mistake ask him/her which of the traits they messed up and then challenge them to complete five simple acts that will practice that trait and rebuild positive integrity. Say, “When you do one thing wrong, you get to do five things right.” Building integrity is the process of building thoughts that build actions, that build habits, that build character, and ultimately determine destiny.