Building Character Game

When children have problems, parents often focus on the negative. Constantly focusing upon the faults of our children can cause great pain and can damage their self-esteem. In addition, being critical often hurts our relationships with those we criticize. How do we stop?

It does very little good to concentrate all of our efforts on not doing something we want to stop.

The most effective way to change is to concentrate on doing the opposite good in place of the bad.

If people try to stop overeating, it is torture, and it usually fails if they simply try not to eat as much. They think of the food they cannot have, crave it, wish for it -- which means it is always on their mind -- until they finally give in.

Success comes if (1) they think of and prepare some foods they can eat, plus (2) plan activities to do during the times they usually indulge and (3) if they reward their successes with non-edible treats. The secret is to replace the bad with the good.

This principle of replacing the bad with good works well with building good character qualities in children.

Get the whole family involved. Make a chart with each person's name on it. Each person says what positive trait he or she wants to work on. If one says something negative like "not arguing," try to think of the positive opposite to strive for, such as speaking one's views respectfully.

Smaller children may need some suggestions to choose from, such as

  • saying "please"
  • saying "thank you" 
  • speaking in a pleasant voice (opposite of whining)
  • being generous
  • doing homework or chores pleasantly
  • sharing
  • eating healthily
  • exercising
  • organizing and putting away clothes and toys in their proper places
  • practicing patience
  • practicing kindness
  • practicing good humor.

For example:

Name Quality Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
Daddy Family Time ******    
Mama Joy and Humor ******    
Child 1 Patience ********    
Child 2 Sharing (or Cheerful Helping, etc.) ***    


After the chart is made, have everyone in the family try hard to "catch" each other doing the good things. If you catch someone hanging up his or her clothes, say, "I caught you! You are going good! I'm giving you a check for organization!" Put a check (*star, etc.) on the chart by his or her name.

Give checks even if the person does good in an area he or she is not specifically working on. 

At the end of the week, or after a certain number of checkes, have a family game night. Or do something fun togeher to celebrate. Then choose a new character quality, or the same one, for the next week. 

Practice each new good behavior until it becomes a habit.


Photo Credit: Shazron cc

Parents' Emergency Box
Littles Learning On The Go

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to