Fred Becker of Becker Institute

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Parenting Tips That Build Character When Your Kids Are Driving You Crazy

I remember counseling a second grade boy who was a 'Sammy the Slacker.' One day his teacher confided, "When I tell my class, 'Children, please take out your readers,' Sammy leans back in his chair, his arms hanging over its back, and calls out, 'I can’t find my book!' Sure enough, a little girl scrambles over, looks in his messy desk, and finds it for him."

Sammy irritated his teacher, lost the respect of his classmates, and had no friends. These are not the results most parents want for their children. To help Sammy, I worked with his parents. I found out that his mother and grandmother believed it their duty to be servants to their families. They were to pick up after everyone, do all the housework, and smile too.

Sammy’s mom felt her smiles turn to anger. She understood that she was spoiling Sammy, making him weak, dependent, and distasteful to others. She decided to build character in Sammy by changing the beliefs she inherited from her mother.

3 Parenting Tips That Build Character:

Sammy's mom wrote out age-appropriate chores for Sammy.

She created a chart to help build his character.

She worked with Sammy to choose a goal for his chart.

The goals Sammy's mother offered were clear, simple, and positive. At the top of Sammy’s chart Sammy chose this goal:

"My goal is to do my own work and then help others."

3 Parenting Tips That Motivate:

Sammy's mom offered stickers for his chart.

She developed a fun activity list to share with him as a reward.

She gave Sammy the choice of which activity to share when he earned a certain number of stickers.

Once the chart was created, Sammy posted it on the refrigerator. Sammy’s mom knew she had to encourage his improvements.

3 Parenting Tips to Encourage Good Behavior:

Sammy's mom rewarded him consistently.

She gave the stickers soon after he completed a task.

She scheduled his fun activity to do together soon after he earned enough stickers.

Because Sammy’s mom was positive and consistent in rewarding him, he went from being Sammy the Slacker to becoming Sammy the Helper. His teacher sent home reports of improvement and, slowly but surely, Sammy made friends.

Whether you have a Billy the Blamer, a Gretta the Greedy, or a child with some other problem behavior, consider using character building charts. You’ll be teaching your child responsibility, self-discipline, and teamwork. You’ll feel saner and happier. You'll be building character too.

by Jean Tracy, MSS -

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