20 Attributes to Foster in Children
An attribute is ‘a quality or characteristic’ and in this article, it is a quality or characteristic that we want to foster in our children.
Raising children is a joy, demanding work, and a responsibility. Along with that responsibility, we think of the attributes we want to foster in our children. The list below is a universal list of attributes I think all parents would hope their children develop. It’s our responsibility to foster these. Therein lies one of the challenges of being a parent.
I’ve listed the 20 attributes to foster in children that I feel are the most common ones with some suggestions to hopefully help you in this ominous task. I’m sure you have your own ways and they are just as right as mine. Feel free to share hints in the comment section to help start a discussion. Let’s face it, children, unfortunately, don’t come with instruction manuals. My suggestions are only a start. Yours may help someone else in this journey.
20 Attributes to Foster in Children
Instilling reverence is bringing to the child that sense of awe in our world. That includes reverence for our God, the people the surround us, our world and their own bodies. We teach it by making them be quiet when in a church or religious setting. We teach it when we share the beauty of a sunset; the sight of a doe and her fawn peeking out of the wood side; of blowing the fluff of dandelions with them. It’s there when we teach them that they are created by God and must take care of that special creation – themselves.
- Loving and loveable
I like to think this is the easiest one for me. We teach loving with hugs and kisses and our wiliness to receive those wet kisses in return. Children imitate what they see and live with. The love of a mother and father for one another is a quiet reminder to them that love is meant to be shared and is real. It’s taught in that care we give for those ever present ‘boo-boos’. The child learns love when he is listened to and given explanations.
Children should learn admiration for persons, places and things due to their abilities, qualities, or achievements. But also, a respect for the feelings of others. We teach them to not interrupt conversations; to not walk on the flowers but to stay on the paths. Cleaning up their space teaches them to respect the things they have. Respect brings with it a caring for people, places and things.
Children are taught to do things on their own and be given age appropriate opportunities to do tasks on their own.Letting a young child pick out clothing to wear might be a start. Or setting the table, feeding the cat, carrying their dishes to the sink are small ways we foster this attribute.
We teach children that they can do certain tasks by themselves. We encourage them in their own abilities. That “Good job”, “Wow- Look at what you just did!” are small ways to start them realizing they can do things on their own. When failures come, I like to relate to the child that ‘it looks like this is something that is going to take some practice’. That takes failure into a situation of learning not putting themselves down.
Part of learning confidence is learning honesty. Honesty is a building block of developing trust. It’s freedom of deceit. It includes being truthful, sincere, candid, open, up front and above board in both words and actions. It is one of the harder ones to teach because that honesty may often result in taking responsibility for behavior or actions that were wrong. And those behaviors or actions may lead to punishment. A parent must make sure any punishment instills the responsibility for misdeeds so that it becomes a learning experience.
I can think of no phrase I hated to hear more than “I’m bored. There is nothing to do.” Children learn to keep themselves busy when we allow them to play with their toys in ways they choose. The child who is afraid to do something different with the Lego set then the picture on the box will be easily bored. But mixing up 3 sets to create something new and different will not only spur creativity but keep the child busy. In addition, when we engage children in chores, we need to help them learn the joy in doing work. Regular library trips will give them books that will also keep them busy and broaden their horizons.
We teach our children to say ‘thank you’ for gifts, acts, and deeds that benefit them. In addition, teaching children to say Grace before meals and prayers before bed instills in them thankfulness for all that God provides for them.
I love to see little girls spin around in full skirts and little boys catching frogs to show to me. Joyfulness is sharing our joy with them. Laughter, smiles, singing songs, dancing and clapping are ways we can teach our children to express joyfulness.
While obedience is what we all do to meet the requirements of others, I think discipline is something we do on our own. Discipline is the way of life where we make up the rules for ourselves and chose to follow them. The obedient child puts their dirty clothes in the hamper because mother told him to. The disciplined child puts their clothes in the hamper because they like to see a neat environment. Both are necessary attributes.
If you have children, you have heard the ‘why’ inquiry more times than you can count. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to say “Honey, Mommy’s brain is taking a nap right now. Ask me that later.” Of course, we want them to be inquisitive. Providing a broken radio and a screw driver to that budding engineer is one way to foster that. Letting children help with cooking, gardening, and things like ant farms are ways to let children explore and learn about their world. Again, here is where those trips to the library let children find ways to learn and explore their world on their own.
Your refrigerator will rapidly become filled with the products of your child’s creativity when you introduce them to crayons, chalks and paints. Play dough is shaped into forms that will astonish you. Here again cooking, sewing, carpentry are skills that will be needed in adult life but are avenues to creativity for today.
“I can’t do this.” “No, you weren’t able to do that this time. It looks like this is one of those things that is going to need practice. I wonder how many times it will take until you learn that?”
Adding those magic words ‘this time’ to the ‘I can’ts’ is the secret for teaching persistence.Click To Tweet
On the other hand, the child with the new drum or other noise maker seems to prevail with persistence you didn’t believe possible. Here is the time to find the right location for entertaining persistence so that you can maintain your sanity.
We can teach thoughtfulness by engaging children is doing special things for others. “Grandma is coming. Do you think she would like some flowers in her room? Could you pick some from the garden for her? What does she like to eat? Drink?” “Your sister hurt herself on the swings. What do you think we could do to make her feel better?” It is the opportunity to practice these things that teaches a child to become thoughtful.
Thrift comes with learning the value of things. Am allowance, no matter what size helps a child learn the value of things and with your instruction and teaching they can learn to stretch their money. In addition, we teach children the value of things like the cost of maintaining a home. Lights are turned off when we’re not using them to save the cost of electricity. Clothes are hung up, washed, picked up so they will last longer. Taking a child on shopping trips with explanations of value of items helps establish attributes of thrift.
When I think of humility as an attribute for my child, I don’t mean self-effacement. I want my child to feel pride in their accomplishments but I also want them to be willing to give credit to others who may have helped them achieve something.
“This cake is delicious.” “Thanks. Mom helped me with this recipe I found in a cook book from the library.”
That’s the type of humility I want for my children.
In addition, there is the humility of accepting compliments graciously, especially when they are given for things like appearance or innate talents. A simple ‘thank you’ when someone compliments a child on their singing voice or the color of their eyes. Accepting those compliments without putting themselves down or rejecting the compliment is humility also.
I want my children to have courage to try new things, even when there is a high chance of failure at the onset. Helping a child cope with friends who laugh at them not with them is one of the way we teach this attribute.
- Sense of awe
We need to foster that sense of awe in our children. The awe of life, of a newborn, of a sunset, of a flower opening or a cocoon opening with a butterfly coming out. As a parent, that means we have to give our children the opportunity to share these things with them and to share our delight in them also. Let them feel the wind on their face, the feel of raindrops on their hand, or what a snowflake looks like. We need to respond to their discoveries of awe. I find many times a quiet walk in a meadow or the woods or sea shore will waken my own sense of awe as my child delights in new discoveries.
- Ability to articulate
Last on my list, but undoubtedly not the last attribute one wants for their child, is the ability to articulate. I want my child to have the words to express what they are seeing, feeling, doing, and experiencing in words that help them share that with others. This is the basis of all communication. This means I need to carry on conversations with my child and listen to what they are saying. I encourage reading all sorts of books from the library. Word games while on trips are wonderful way to fuel this ability. Sharing the day’s events at the dinner table fosters this also.
How many of these attributes do you want for your children? What other ones are missing from the list? Feel free ways you have found to instill these in your children. We all need help with raising our children and yes, for me, now grandchildren.
There is a chart with these listed for you to maybe post on your refrigerators to serve as a reminder. Click here for a copy. We teach these attributes every day as the occasion arises but I’ve found it helpful to choose one each week and look for ways to foster that specific one. It reminded me of my responsibilities.
Love, Hugs, and Prayers,
Scripture for today:
“ Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6New King James Version (NKJV)