Who doesn’t want their child to grow up to be a good person, to have manners and know how to act in various social situations? As Christians, we want our children to become Christ-like. Teaching your kids to have character at Christmas is a great step in the right direction!
We get so busy at Christmas that we often forget our kids need reminders about how to behave. Perhaps that is why their behavior can seem a bit off the wall this time of year! Christmas is a great time to take a few minutes and discuss character. We may expect it to come naturally as adults, but we all had to learn it at one time. Make it easier for your children (and yourself!) by intentionally teaching character at Christmas.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV
How to Teach Character at Christmas (or Any Time!)
- Talk about the meaning of the trait you want to teach and why it is important.
- Model the character trait you are trying to teach. Don’t be ashamed to point it out. You aren’t doing it to be vain or get credit. It is a teaching tool.
- Likewise, talk about it when you mess up and don’t model the character trait you want to teach. Let your kids learn from your mistakes.
- Role play different scenarios with your kids. Act out both the right AND the wrong things to do. Practice may not make perfect, but it will help them think about how to react in different situations.
- Praise your children when you see them exhibiting the character traits.
- When your children are not exhibiting the character traits you have been working on, talk about it. Let them tell you what they could have done differently. When it is appropriate, have them apologize for wrong behavior.
- Pray and don’t give up. As humans, we can often only see what is right before us. God has an eternal perspective. He can see what is yet to come. He can and does change hearts and minds. Pray for your child. It is a parent’s job to guide and direct, but our children really belong to God.
Steps to Take to Teach Character at Christmas
Here are a few common Christmas situations you may encounter and some points to discuss with your children…
Generosity: Giving Gifts
- Think about what the person would like, not necessarily what you would like. Put yourself in their shoes.
- If you get allowance or have money of your own, be willing to give some of it up. It doesn’t have to be much, but it really means something when it comes from your own money or if you give of your own time to pick it out, make it, or wrap it.
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6 ESV
Thankfulness: Accepting Presents Graciously
- Realize that someone had to sacrifice (money, time, resources) to give them a gift.
- Admire the gift you are given. You don’t have to love it, but look for at least one good thing about it.
- Look the giver in the eye and say, “Thank you” and something nice about the gift. Even if you aren’t thankful for the gift itself, you should be thankful they thought of you and care enough to give you something.
- If you really want to show your thankfulness, send a thank you card after Christmas. It shows you have not forgotten their generosity. Make sure to include a personal touch about why you liked their gift.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
Hospitality: Loving on Family and Friends in Your Home
- Put on a welcoming smile.
- Remember that your visitors are only with you for a little while. You can do anything for a short time. This is your chance to show your best and love on others the way God does.
- Put other’s needs ahead of your own. You always have your home and your stuff. It’s okay to let someone else use it for a while. Once they leave, it will be all yours again.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9 ESV
Self Control: Manners in Someone Else’s Home
- Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Also treat their things the way you would want your things to be treated. Try to leave everything in as good, or better, condition than you found it.
- Use your best manners. “Please and thank you” go a long way.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
May you have a fun and blessed Christmas season. And may you see Jesus in the faces of your children!
How do you teach character to your children? What character traits are the most important to you?