Identify Character Qualities to Address Problems

Guest blog post By Dr. Scott Turansky, co-author with Joanne Miller, RN, BSN of The Christian Parenting Handbook by Thomas<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

Guest blog post By Dr. Scott Turansky, pastor, co founder of National Center for Biblical Parenting, and co-author with Joanne Miller, RN, BSN of The Christian Parenting Handbook by Thomas Nelson.

 Identify Character Qualities to Address Problems

If you see an ingrained pattern in your children’s behavior, here’s an exercise that will give you some direction. In fact, this activity is good for any parent looking for ways to help children grow, but it’s especially helpful when you’re confused and weighed down by a problem’s complexity or deeply rooted nature.

Take a piece of paper and make a list of your child’s offenses or the problems you’ve seen in the last few days. This isn’t a list to show to your child but is a working list so you can gain some perspective in your discipline. You’re looking for examples of problems that need to be addressed. Look for behaviors, their causes, common arenas where the problem takes place, and others who were typically involved. In this step, you’re simply gathering data and making observations, writing down the facts.

Next, group the problems by character qualities. That is, look for common threads in the offenses that may indicate a bigger heart issue. For example, one mom was discouraged with her son because he continually resisted chores, wasn’t completing his work at school, and gave her a hard time when she asked for help around the house. She saw a common thread: her son didn’t like to work hard and resisted work at every turn. She called it a “work ethic,” but you could easily give it a character quality name, such as working on perseverance or determination.

Grouping offenses around character qualities is freeing for many parents. First, it provides some perspective. Instead of working on fifty different negative behaviors, now you can focus on three or four positive character qualities. Furthermore, once you develop a strategy for character development, you begin to see many of the offenses in your child’s life as opportunities for growth.

This approach also helps parents focus on what their kids need to be doing instead of simply focusing on the wrong behavior. Listen to your words of correction. Are they primarily focused on the problem, or on the solution? One mom caught herself in a trail of statements focused on the problem. “Cut it out.” “Stop being annoying.” “People aren’t going to like you if you keep that up.” Instead, she’d be more effective if she’d say, “Think about being sensitive.” “Remember, stop and think first.” “Look to see how the other person is feeling.” By talking about the positive character quality you’re developing in your child, you can be more positive and hopeful in your approach.

For more ideas about moving from a behavior modification to a heart-based approach to parenting, visit


God Sees Me


I received this question from a mom last week:

“We are having a problem with our preschool son being sneaky. We tell him no and he waits until we aren’t looking and then does it.
Any scriptures for this one? Ideas? Help.”

Below is my response:

“This one verse comes to mind:
Genesis 16:13 Thereafter, Hagar referred to the Lord, who had spoken to her, as’the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have seen the One who sees me!’
Here is a week long lesson I used with my children using this verse:”


God Sees Me

Genesis 16:13 God Sees Me

Bible Stories: (Tell a different Bible Story each day)

Genesis 3 Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They ate some fruit from a tree that God had told them not to eat. They tried to hide themselves from God in the garden. But God came looking for them. He knew what had happened. God saw them. God was very disappointed with Adam and Eve. Remember that God sees you and you can’t hide from Him when you do wrong.

Genesis 16 There was a lady name Hagar who ran away from her home. She ran to the wilderness trying to hide from everyone but God knew where she was and he told her to go home. Hagar said, “You, God, see me: and she went home like God had told her to do. God sees me everywhere I go and He sees you everywhere you go. God sees everyone.

Proverbs 15:3 The Bible says that God’s eyes are everywhere and He sees all the good things we do and He sees all the bad things we do. Even when mom and dad aren’t watching you, God is watching you. God sees you; He keeps His eyes on you to take care of you and to keep you out of trouble. Always remember that God sees you and when you are tempted to do something bad, ask yourself if you want God to see you doing that.

1 Kings 19 A wicked queen named Jezebel was mad a the preacher Elijah. She wanted to hurt him so Elijah ran away. He ran into the wilderness and sat down under a juniper tree and went to sleep. God saw Elijah there and woke him up and gave him some food and water. Then Elijah went to a cave. God saw him there, too. God saw Elijah everywhere he went. God told Elijah he had special things for him to do and to go back. Elijah obeyed God because he knew that saw him.

Jonah God told Jonah He wanted him to go to Ninevah to preach to the eople there. But Jonah didn’t want to go to Ninevah. He got on a boat going to Tarshish to hide from God. But God saw him on that boat and sent a big wind to disturb the water and cause the boat to almost sink. The men on the boat found out that Jonah was trying to hide from God so they threw him out of the boat. God saw Jonah in the water and caused a big fish to swallow Johan. God saw Jonah in the fish and heard him praying. God made the fish spit Jonah out on dry land. Then Jonah went to Ninevah and preached like God had told him to do. Jonah learned that God saw him wherever he was.

Prayer: Help us to always act with the thought that You see us. Thank you that we can’t hide from You. You are always watching over us to keep us from trouble.


  • Cut the letters ‘God Sees Me’ out of felt and frame them and hang them on the wall as a constant reminder that even when no one else is looking, God sees me.
  • Show glasses, telescope, mirror, camera, microscope, binoculars, sunglasses. Talk about the fact that God doesn’t need any of these things to see us.
  • Have child turn their back and you take one of the items away.  When they turn around have them guess which one you removed.  Talk about the fact that God sees what we do when others can’t.
  • Go in every room, outside, under the bed, etc and repeat the Bible verse in each place
  • Play Hide and Seek with older children and Peek a Boo with younger – pointing out that even when you can’t see them God still can

“You can talk to him about honesty which is being careful what you say and do – Click
here for a post on this site for ideas and a song with signing video about honesty.

Hopefully something here will be helpful. Thank you for having a passion for establishing God’s Word in your children.

‘You are doing a great work’ (Jeremiah 6:3)”

Please feel free to email me with any questions at Not that I have all the answers, but I would be happy to try and help you find the answers as you train up your child in the way he should go.





Teaching Preschoolers Contentment

Giving thanks produces contentment.  Read the suggested passages for Bible stories or thoughts and tell them in your own words.   Do one each day along with a suggested activities.  Put the Bible verse on the fridge and repeat it often.


(Choosing to be happy with what you have)

Bible Verse: In everything give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Bible Stories:
Hebrews 1:15 – God wants us to give Him thanks more than anything. He would rather us tell Him “thank you” than to give Him money. He would rather us tell Him “thank you” than give Him presents. God likes to hear “thank you”.

Psalm 119:1 – David thanked God for everything God did. He thanked him for the good things. He even thanked God for the bad things that happened. David thanked God even when he was hurt because it helped him to learn God’s Word. The bad things that happen to us can help us learn more about God when we go through the hurtful things. God wants us to thank Him when good things happen and not so good things happen.

John 6:1-13 – One day Jesus was teaching a lot of people and they were all hungry. Jesus took what food was given to him by a little boy and thanked God for the food. God made enough food from that to feed all the people. Jesus gave thanks for His food and so should we.

Luke 17:11-19 – One day 10 sick men came to see Jesus. They asked Jesus to help make them well. He told them how to be healed. When they obeyed him, they were healed. All 10 were healed but only 1 came back to thank Jesus.

Psalm 139:14 David thanked God for making him. He said, “I will thank God for making me wonderfully” David thanked God for making all of his body – eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands, feet, stomach, etc. Thank God for making all of you.

Prayer: Help us focus on things we do have, not on the things we don’t have

Thank God for someone special and make a card for them.
Make a ‘thank you box’ and find pictures of things to put in it.
Paste picture of foods (favorite and not so favorite) on a paper plate and write the Bible verse on it. (John 6:1-13)
Make paper cut outs of the 10 sick men and act out the story. (Luke 17:11-19)
Play ball together and thank God for each part of the body as you use them. (Psalm 139:14)


A Thankful Song



Sharing Scenario

Possible scenario:

Grant takes baby brother Hudson’s toy; Grant gets punished for not sharing when Hudson protests. Hudson takes Grant’s toy; Grant gets punished for not sharing when he refuses Hudson the toy.  This could cause Grant confusion and resentment of baby brother.

Thankfully these brothers have wise parents and the scenario actually goes like this:

When Hudson comes near the toys Grant has been playing with, Grant hears from a parent, “Hudson, Grant is playing with these toys. You can’t just take something that someone else is using. Let’s ask Grant nicely if he will share one of his toys.”  Then Grant chooses one toy he can let Hudson play with.  If Grant is not willing to share at least one toy, then he gets time out.  If he shares, he gets a star on a chart leading up to a treat when the chart is filled.   If Hudson continues to try to take the toys that Grant has set up to play with, Grant hears from a parent, “Hudson, Grant has already shared a toy with you; you might need a time out for a few minutes” and the parent tries to divert Hudson with something else.   Hudson gets time out if he still refuses to leave Grant’s toys.

When Grant takes a toy from Hudson, Grant is reminded that he can’t just take something that someone else is using and he must ask Hudson nicely if he will share a toy.  The parent helps Hudson find a different toy to share with Grant.  If Grant refuses the alternate toy from Hudson and makes a fuss, then he gets time out.

Grant as the older brother is encouraged to help teach sharing to Hudson.  Grant is given a cup of cheerios and Hudson is given a cup of cheerios.  Parent suggests that Grant give Hudson a cheerio and Hudson is guided to give Grant one, saying the Bible verse, ‘Be ready to share’ each time they share.

It takes zeal and perseverance to train children in the way they should go.   Don’t grow weary in well doing; you will see the fruit of your labor (Galatians 6:9)

For a one week lesson plan on sharing see


In Word and Deed

Jesus of Nazareth . . . was a prophet,
powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.
Luke 24:19

I have brought the Gentiles to God
by my message and by the way I lived before them.
Romans 15:18

Jesus was powerful in His words and His deeds.

In Romans Paul acknowledges his success in leading others to Christ came from not only his words, but the life he lived.

Never forget that our own attitudes and actions influence our children more deeply than our words.

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

This poem hung on my wall when my children were young as a reminder that someone was always watching my deeds, even if they were not listening to my words.


(Check out the book, Children Learn What They Live.   In it the author expounds on each of the qualities mentioned in her 1954 poem.)