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When I was still working in public education I remember realizing that my students would become what I expected of them. This could not be more true for your own children as well. When we set the expectations high, our children meet them. When we set them low, our children know. They know when they can push buttons and get away with things. Children are intelligent, even before they begin to use words!
Let the words you speak of your child be encouraging and empowering. When you’re out in public refer to them by the characteristics you have chosen for them. Focus on the GOOD characteristics, not the negative actions. Children will repeat the actions they are expected to perform (good or bad).
At 18 months we realized our daughter was fiery and strong-willed. I asked for recommendations from other moms, I did research, and still was struggling with how to parent her. Then I remembered...If I wanted her to act a certain way, I had to raise the expectations I had for her. I had to stop talking about how strong-willed she was and focus on her fearlessness. I had to stop letting her get away with things because I didn’t want to have to confront the strong will or listen to the tantrums. When I focused on her positives and stayed true to my parenting style, she began to thrive. She’s still very strong-willed, but knows where the line is and when she is expected to stop.
We pray that she is compassionate, but I wasn’t showing compassion when she would have a tantrum. Once I started taking a little more time to be compassionate with her, I noticed that she began showing compassion to her brothers.
Your children will become what you tell them they are! Empower them, encourage them, but don’t overlook the moments that need redirection, guidance, and discipline. By overlooking those moments, you could be squashing the Biblical characteristics that God has placed within them.
When we dedicated our oldest son at church we were encouraged to pick three characteristics to pray over him. These words were ones we saw in him at an early age and how we want to encourage him as he matures. We have since used this same process to select characteristics for our other two children.
We used these three categories to base our selections off of:
1: Who he/she will be to those close to him/her (family and close friends)
2: Who he/she will be to everyone he/she encounters (classmates, teachers, coaches, etc.)
3: Who he/she will be in his/her pursuit of Christ
When our oldest was born, Clay and I both had a very strong sense of the type of child he would be. Choosing these characteristics came naturally and have come to fruition. We both envisioned him as the child who includes others and shows kindness, even when it’s difficult. Throughout the last five years, we have seen every characteristic we chose come out in him through a variety of encounters.
We pray that he is loyal to his family.
We pray that he is kind to everyone.
We pray that he will be steadfast in his pursuit of Christ.
Three years after our son was born we had a daughter. I can remember sitting in the bedroom talking with my husband about her and the sense I got about the type of individual she would become. I believe she will be a leader. She’s fiery and will start movements that others will want to follow. While she is only two years old right now, there are definitely characteristics coming out in her that we have chosen.
We pray she is wise and that her friends seek her for advice and problem-solving.
We pray she is compassionate to others she interacts with.
We pray she is fearless in everything she does and that fearlessness will carry over into her pursuit of Christ.
Fourteen months after she was born, our third arrived! I am so thankful that our plans didn’t interfere with God’s timing because he wouldn’t be here if they did. He unknowingly changed the trajectory of our lives. He’s the epitome of a third child. It took us a little longer to come up with characteristics for him, but my husband and I both agreed that BRAVE had to be on the list. My entire pregnancy was high risk and I was on bedrest for the last 5 months. He arrived 5 weeks early via cesarean and needed oxygen assistance. His arrival into the world was scarier than our older two and we know he will continue to be brave.
We pray his family and friends know him as trustworthy and can rely on him.
We pray he is selfless in his interaction with others.
We pray he is brave as he pursues Christ.
Here is a list of character trait words for you to help you get started! Feel free to add others on your own if different characteristics come to mind as you're praying for your child.