positive character traits for kids

3 Character Traits to Affirm in Your Kids

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Being the son of a Marine, the values in my home were similar to the values of the Corps—respect and honor, work ethic, faithfulness, devotion, humility, and commitment, just to name a few. We are told life is about the journey, not the destination. But most people only see our best moments because that’s what we post to social media. Very few see the journey, yet all high-five us for arriving at the finish line.

While it is important for us to praise our kids in healthy ways regarding their achievements, it’s even more important to build up the character traits that lead to those achievements. Here are 3 positive character traits for kids that will encourage them to be among the few, the proud.

1. Integrity

If we’re going to raise our kids to be strong individuals, we must teach them to remain true to their morals and values. The Marines go by the following code: Semper Fi—always faithful. It’s important to teach what it means to be faithful, being devoted to something greater than ourselves, encouraging them to follow their moral compass. If they stay the course until the end, success won’t be far behind. We should applaud our kids’ consistency. Praise them when they do chores without being reminded every 30 seconds to do them. Celebrate that they didn’t rage-quit a game they’ve tried to win for weeks. Tell them you’re proud when they tell the truth even though it would have been easier to blame a younger sibling for breaking a dish. There is no medal or trophy for having integrity, but the kids who earn medals and trophies don’t usually do it without that trait.

If they stay the course until the end, success won’t be far behind.

2. Resilience

Michael Jordan faced stress as a kid getting cut from his high school basketball team. Stephen King was a long-suffering English teacher before he published his first book. Anybody who’s achieved anything has struggled first. So I’ve been vulnerable in front of my kids about my own struggles at work, which lets them know that life can be hard sometimes. But we can overcome and learn how to fight through it rather than avoid it. When we praise them for being resilient at school, in their jobs, and in relationships, especially when times get tough, they’ll believe they can get through.

3. Submission

This word means something different than you think: a voluntary choice to take responsibility for others, identify with them, and carry their burdens. As parents, we submit to our kids every day. Taking responsibility for them, identifying with them, and carrying their burdens is the toughest job in the world. The key to this form of submission: It’s voluntary. Forced submission has never ended well and usually leads to a lot of unhealthy relationships. But when a dad makes the choice to submit, he’s setting an example for his kids to follow. It’s like an athlete who voluntarily stays after practice to watch film even after the coaches have left, or Kobe arriving at school two hours early to play pick-up games with his classmates in the gym. The choice to submit demonstrates a willingness to take responsibility for the team, identify with them, and take on the burden to better yourself and your teammates. When a dad models submission, the home becomes stronger.

Sound off: What positive character traits for kids do you think are important to teach?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think is one character trait everyone should have?”