Focus on the Family

Character Crew: Develop Moral Character

Welcome to an exciting new way to help your children develop their moral character.

Respect and citizenship. Hope and compassion. Courage and honesty. Excellence, perseverance and responsibility. These are key character traits that will benefit not just your children, but your entire family. But what's the best way to teach these qualities to your kids?

Character Crew is here to help. With a fun refrigerator poster, interesting activities and cool stories, Champ — our character mascot — will make learning enjoyable. Simply hang the poster on your refrigerator and spend a month or so doing several of the activities we provide. You can find each character trait's story and other information in the articles that follow. Let the training begin!


Respect

Showing consideration and regard for yourself, others and the world around you

Discuss the benefits of treating others in the same way you would like to be treated. Help your child understand that all people have value and therefore should be treated with respect.

People show respect in many ways. They speak and act kindly, avoid insults, cruel comments and rude language. They are courteous and considerate to family members and treat others fairly, regardless of race, sex, age or ethnic group. They demonstrate respect for people who do not share their beliefs, likes, and dislikes.

American writer James Baldwin once said, "Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." Children learn respect (or disrespect) from how we treat them and others. They reflect back everything we, as parents, say and do. When we give children the same respect we demand, we are modeling this important character trait. Remember, how we teach them is what we teach them.

To Do

  1. Go over the Respect (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, A Chilly Tale, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Listen to the Adventures in Odyssey episode, "Relatively Annoying," and discuss the questions.
  4. Do the Friendly Dinner (ages 4-7) or the Growing Respect (ages 8-12) activity to reinforce the respect character trait.

 

Materials


Citizenship

Getting involved in the community by helping others

Character Crew activities help you and your children discuss important qualities each person should display toward God, self, others and creation. This lesson concerns citizenship. It's a great time to learn what it means to honor our nation and be responsible stewards within the community.

To Do

  1. Go over the Citizenship (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Truckload of Gifts, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Listen to the Adventures in Odyssey episode, "Mayor for a Day," and discuss the questions.
  4. Do the Hold on to Your Trash! activity to demonstrate to your kids that we need to take care of this world.

Materials


Hope

To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment

Hope is usually described with such metaphors as: a ray, a beam, a glimmer of hope; the break in the clouds; the light at the end of the dark tunnel. It is often discovered in unexpected places and in unexpected ways.

Life is full of a series of challenges that we must face. Although these challenges may seem impossible at times, they are probably there for a reason. My father used to say, "It is the sandpaper that makes the wood smooth." Help your children learn the value of hope in all they do.

No matter what sort of adversity or challenge we face, we can always believe that, with hope, it can be conquered and, in the end, we will be stronger for it. Life does go on despite our circumstances. Hopefully, you will pass on this valuable lesson to your children through the activities in this package.

To Do

  1. Go over the Hope (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Amiga, Friend, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Listen to the Adventures in Odyssey episode, "Our Daily Bread," and discuss the questions.
  4. Do the What I Hope For activity to reinforce the hope character trait.

Materials


Compassion

The deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the need to give aid and support

Character Crew activities help you and your children discuss important qualities each person should display toward God, self, others and creation. This lesson concerns compassion. Spend some time with your child this month explaining the virtues of compassion and suggest ways to serve those who are less fortunate. As parents/guardians, we should set aside time to teach our children character traits that will make them outstanding, admired citizens. Every day is filled with opportunities for helping them learn about the character traits we value and want to encourage.

To Do

  1. Go over the Compassion (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Odd Man Out, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Do the Showing Compassion activity to reinforce the compassion character trait.

Materials


Courage

To face a challenge without fear; having the determination to do the right thing even when others don't

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is taking action in the face of fear.

Courage is often associated with soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, and astronauts. These people are courageous, but it also takes courage to be a good parent and a good citizen.

It takes courage to fight the temptations and struggles in everyday life. It takes courage to succeed when others would like to see you fail. Finally, it takes courage to stand up for those less fortunate. No one would disagree that courage is a valuable character trait — one that will serve as a foundational piece in your child's life.

To Do

  1. Go over the Courage (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Bamboo People, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Do the What Does Courage Mean to You? activity to reinforce the courage character trait.

Materials


Honesty

Being truthful in words and deeds

Honesty means acting in a trustworthy way so that you will respect yourself and be respected by others. When children practice honesty, they:

Remember that no responsibility is more important than spending some time with your child explaining the virtues of building strong character. Spend some time reading the story, discussing the questions, and performing some of the additional activities associated with honesty.

To Do

  1. Go over the Honesty (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Too Many Bad Things, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Do the Honesty activity to reinforce this character trait.

Materials


Excellence

The quality of excelling; possessing good qualities in high degree

When children try to do their best in everything they do, it affects their attitude, confidence, self-esteem, self-worth and pride. When excellence is praised, children develop the habit. As parents/guardians, we should set aside time to teach our children character traits that will make them outstanding, admired citizens. Every day is filled with opportunities for helping them to learn about the character traits we value and want to encourage.

This character trait package provides suggestions of good activities for excellence. But you, as the child's most important teacher, are the best judge of which activities are the most appropriate.

To Do

  1. Go over the Excellence (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, The New "Losers' Club", with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Do at least one additional activity to reinforce the excellence character trait.

Materials


Perseverance

Adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. — Confucius

When we persevere, we:

There is a poem on the Bible.org Web site titled "The Race." This poem exemplifies perseverance. The last few lines of the poem read:

For all of life is like a race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
"Quit!" "Give up, you're beaten!" They still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says,"GET UP AND WIN THE RACE!"

Spend some time with your child explaining the importance of "staying the course" and doing the best you can. And, read "The Race" together. You will be glad you did.

To Do

  1. Go over the Perseverance (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Look Who Persevered!, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Do the activity (to reinforce the perseverance character trait.

 

Materials


Responsibility

Taking care of one's self and others; to carry out a duty or task carefully and thoroughly

Being responsible means being dependable, keeping promises and accepting the consequences of what we say and do. It also means trying to be the best we can be. Children need to learn that being part of a family, a team or a class involves accepting responsibilities.

The following quotes underscore the awesome responsibility of parenting:

One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.
– Anonymous

We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
– Jesse Jackson

There are two ways of spreading light - to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
– Edith Wharton

To Do

  1. Go over the Responsibility (pdf) poster together and put it on the refrigerator.
  2. Read the story, Horse Sense, with your child and discuss the questions at the end.
  3. Do the activities to reinforce the responsibility character trait.

Materials