Monday, June 4, 2012

Day 1: Speak the language of virtues

Welcome to the 5 Days of Mothering and Homemaking Series! Click on the picture at the top or bottom of this blog post to visit the 20 other bloggers participating in this encouraging series! To read why I chose this topic click HERE!

Before I actively started teaching my children specific virtues, I had the idea that just encouraging my children's good behavior was enough to set them on the right path.  It's not a difficult concept to imagine that teaching your children to say thank you, not to interrupt and to attend to their work would result in a child with courtesy, patience, and diligence.

This can work.

But it can be better!

Learning the specific virtues and deliberately choosing ones to work on with your children (and yourself) can be so rewarding.  By focusing on a specific virtue, you can teach your child exactly how to use it, why it's important and even the biblical reasoning behind it.  It's not enough to just tell your children: be good and behave.  Children need to learn what character traits they want to have in life and how they go around getting them.

Some examples of virtues include:

Assertiveness, Caring, Cleanliness, Commitment, Compassion, Confidence, Consideration, Cooperation, Courage, Courtesy, Creativity, Determination, Diligence, Enthusiasm, Flexibility, Forgiveness, Friendliness, Generosity, Gentleness, Helpfulness, Honesty, Humility, Integrity, Joyfulness, Justice, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Moderation, Modesty, Orderliness, Patience, Peacefulness, Perseverance, Purposefulness, Reliability, Respect, Responsibility, Self-Discipline, Service, Tact, Thankfulness, Tolerance, Trust, Trustworthiness, Trustfulness, Understanding, Unity (from The Virtues Projec Educators Guide)

From this list, go ahead and choose a few that you think are important to teach to your child.  Once you teach your children the names of these virtues and what they involve you can begin naming a specific virtues you see in your children.

For instance:

"I noticed your patience when you waited for me to get off the phone before asking me for a snack"

"I appreciate your perseverance when learning that new piece on the violin"

"You showed your kindness when you helped me clean up your sister's spilled milk"

When your child hears about their good qualities this way, it gives them self confidence.  It gives them a concrete example of the behavior you appreciate and the virtue they used to accomplish it.  Furthermore, you can also tell them why that virtue was helpful.   Take the first example of the child being patient while mom was on the phone.  You can add:

"Because you were so patient, I was able to get all the information I needed from that phone call.  Thank you."

While I was at the 2:1 conference this April, I was fortunate enough to meet Heather McMillan of We Choose Virtues.  She is the developer of an entire program of virtue training for children.  As soon as she showed me her virtue cards, I knew that this was the system I wanted to use to train my children in virtues.  Since our virtue cards arrived in the mail, we have used them every single day.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out how we use this program to teach specific virtues in our home!  Check out their webpage for a sneak peek!


  1. Very interesting. Teaching virtures is so very important. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Did I already tell you that I'm excited that you are posting about this?! I spoke with Heather on the phone last week and she was so sweet and helpful. I can't imagine what she was like in person! Great job, friend.