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Character Catechism: Obedience, Honor, and Self-Control

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 28, 2010


         Many Christian parents believe it is important to use some sort of catechism to systematically teach their children about God.  But I wonder…how many of them have ever considered the importance of learning a “character catechism?”  I’ve been thinking about it for some time now.  During our Bible time, we practice our catechism and our memory verses (we use Bob Jones curriculum’s catechism.)  I’ve started to write a “character catechism” to go with it.  Some of it I’ve gleaned from the wisdom of others, and some of it I’ve put together myself.    Here is an example I gleaned from the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes…In You and Your Kids,  by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller:

1.  Obedience

Q.  What is Obedience?

A. Obedience means doing what you are told, right away, with a good attitude, without being reminded.

Q.  How do we obey? 

A.  Everyday, all the way, in a quick and cheerful way.  (Tip from the book: Instead of allowing children to argue, tell them to “obey first” and then you’ll discuss it.  Usually once they’ve obeyed, they won’t need to talk about it anymore.)

 2.  Honor: 

Q.  The Bible says to “honor your father and mother.”  What is honor?

A.  Honor means:

  ~ Treating others as special

  ~ Doing more than what is expected

  ~ Having a good attitude.

  You can show others honor when:

  ~ You’re told to do something.

  ~ You’re told, “No”

  ~When someone dishonors you.

 Bible Verses About Obedience & Honor:

  Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.  “Honor your Father and Mother,” (which is the first commandment with a promise): “that it may be well with you, and that you may receive long life on earth.”  Ephesians 6:1-3 (NKJ)

 Children, obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Colossians 3:20 (NKJ)

         I put these definitions in with our memory verse cards and we use them in the traditional “catechism” style; I ask the question, the children answer (we answer together till they learn it.) 

         It’s easy to make up your own character catechism for other character traits you are emphasizing/studying.  First you need to decide on a trait that’s important to you, and then find a good definition.  You can look for definitions in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary or on websites such as Heart of Wisdom.  The best online sources I’ve found is the Character Journal and Lifestyle Homeschool.  Once you find a definition you like, re-word it so that it is simple enough for your children to understand.  This completes the “what” part of the question—i.e. “What is self-control?” Answer: “Self-control means…” Next, brain-storm the “how”:  How do we show self-control? Be specific, and use examples that your children will relate to.  Finally, do a topical/keyword search on Bible Gateway   to look up Bible verses on self-control.  Here is my “catechism” for self-control:

 Q.  What is self-control?

A.   Self-control means controlling my thoughts, attitudes and actions.  Self-control means doing what is right even when I don’t want to.  For older children/adults: Self-control means that “I consider a later benefit more important than my present impulse” (this definition is so convicting!  I found it in another book by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, Good and Angry.  It’s is my current read and I’m loving it.)

Q.  How can I show self-control?

A.  I show self-control when I do what I’m supposed to do quickly and cheerfully even when I don’t want to.  I use self-control when I do not let others “make” me get angry (anger is a choice.)  I have opportunities to use self-control when:

~I don’t get my way.

~I have to wait for what I want/I can’t have what I want.

~When someone is annoying me.

~When I’m told to do something I don’t want to do.

~When I want to say something mean or sassy.

~When I’m tired, hungry, grumpy, or not feeling well.

 Bible verses about self-control:  Galatians 5:23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

1 Thessalonians 5:6b …Let us be alert and self-controlled.  (NIV)

 For older kids, memorize 1 Peter 5:8: Be self-controlled and alert.  You enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.   ~and~

 Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.  (NIV) (Explain to your kids that in Bible times, cities had walls around them to keep our wild animals and enemies.  If we don’t have self-control, we are like a city with no walls; bad things can come to us.)

          If you can, think of a hymn or Sunday school song (that your children can understand) that applies to what you are learning.   Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam applies to obedience, honor, and self-control.  For self-control, also sing  Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See (other verses:  Oh, be careful little hands what you do; oh, be careful little feet where you go; ears what you hear; lips what you say; mind what you think.)

          Other resources you might want to explore to help you develop your own character catechism: 

Character First! Curriculum (ages 6-7+)

A Child’s Book About…(Being Lazy, Being Mean, Disobeying, Interrupting, Throwing Tantrums, etc-many other titles), a “Help Me Be Good Book”, by Joy Berry.  (Not from a Christian perspective, but very good. I don’t understand why they got such mixed reviews.  I have found them to be very helpful.)

Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank-You Book, by Richard Scarry, which contains the story of Pig Will and Pig Won’t, a little pig who learns to be cheerful, cooperative, and helpful around the house. (Obedience/self-control.) 

 What Do You Do, Dear/What Do You Say, Dear? , by  Sesyle Joslin and Maurice Sendak  (Manners=self-control!)

What Would Jesus Do? Charles M. Sheldon’s Classic In His Steps now retold for children, by Mack Thomas (5+)

My Favorite Resources for Adult Reference:

Building Christian Character:  Developing Christ-Like Qualities in our Personal Lives,  by John Regier (used to be available from Biblical Concepts in Counseling; appears to be out of print.) 

Creative Correction:  Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline,  Lisa Whelchel

 Don’t Make me Count to Three, by Ginger Plowman

 Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook, by Sonja Shafer

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

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One Response to “Character Catechism: Obedience, Honor, and Self-Control”

  1. Kim said

    Thanks for this! I’ve been looking for ways to impress character traits upon my 4 year old and find it challenging sometimes. But of course it starts with me!

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