In my pediatrician’s office, there is a poster that says:
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch you words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny
It’s so true that our actions become habits which build up or break down our character. And the time for developing good habits — virtues — is while children are young. Children’s characters are like freshly made play-doh – malleable and relatively easy to form. As children grow into teens and then into adulthood, their characters become harder to form, like old playdoh that dries up and gets crusty.
Most kids don’t think of the effect their actions have on their character. But once children reach the age of ten, I think it’s worth pointing out to them that the way they treat their family members now and the virtues they exercise now will have an impact on the type of person they will grow up to be. You don’t become an accomplished pianist just by waiting to become one. You practice daily and faithfully, drilling in those musical passages until they become a part of you. The same goes for developing one’s character. Want to be a great husband and father? Start by being considerate and generous now. Want to be successful in your career? Start by being industrious and persevering now. As I told my son, if you wait until you’re grown to be the wonderful person you want to be, it might be too late, because old habits die hard.
To be a little more proactive about growing in virtue this year, I made Virtue of the Month cards for my kids… and yours!
Virtue of the month cards! Each card features an inspirational quote and lists a few ways to practice that virtue within the home. My plan is to put up a card at the beginning of each month, talk about the virtue and its opposite vice, and encourage everyone to practice the virtue on a daily basis. Each Monday, we’ll make a little examination of conscience to see how we’re doing and resolve to do better.
To download the whole set, click here. Hope you like them!
For more on virtue training, check out these posts: