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Building Character with the Reflection Technique

by Greg Baker  
5/30/2011 / Parenting


When it comes to building character in someone's life, particularly of children, a technique I've coined as the 'Reflection Technique' can help assist in accomplishing this.

Character is self-rule. It is the ability to follow a set of values, rules, morals, and principles laid down by one's own self. The Bible teaches us that a person who cannot rule his own spirit is like a city without walls--or completely defenseless. Character is the walls to our lives, the buffer against worldly and negative influences.

Most children grow up having been restrained by their parents' character and not their own. They never decided not to drink alcohol, not to do drugs, or not to smoke. It was always the parents' decision, their parent's rules, and their parents values. Then, when they are old enough and mom and dad's rules no longer have any hold, they often fall off into these areas their parents tried desperately to keep them from.

It is all about character. If we don't develop character in our children before they are adults, they won't have the infrastructure, the defenses in place to protect themselves.

The Reflection Technique is based on a verse in Proverbs:

Proverbs 6:6-8 - Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

The command or suggestion here is to go and consider. Any loving parent will attempt to protect his or her children from the evils of the world. We are careful of their friends, the TV they watch, where they go on the internet, and places that expose them to new ideas and concepts. This is natural. This is what a parent is supposed to do.

However, when our children reach an age where their reasoning skills have developed sufficiently, it is important to try to get them to consider the results of certain walks of life. When a child or teenager can determine, on his own, that a course of action is either wrong, dumb, or stupid, you will, more than likely, never have to worry about him falling into that particular trap.

For example, my father used this technique on me as a young teenager who loved to play soccer. Soccer was something I was good at. It was something I enjoyed. My dad used it to help me reflect upon the consequences or the end result of certain decisions and walks of life. We would pass a man who began hacking as he smoked a cigarette and my father would casually remark, "Wow, I bet he wouldn't last long on a soccer field."

Well now, I wanted to last as long as possible while playing soccer. I considered that man, his cigarette, his hacking cough, and I vowed in my heart never to smoke. My father didn't tell me the man was wicked, evil, or a vile sinner because he smoked--which would have had little impact because I couldn't relate such a pronouncement to my own life. He just forced me to reflect upon the consequences. He helped me to consider it in light of what I knew, what I loved, and what I wanted.

And because it was my decision, I never ever smoked. I never even had the faintest desire to do so either. My father leveraged this same technique for many different things he wanted me to avoid. In the end, I decided not to drink, smoke, do drugs, and so forth. It was my decision, my rule. It became my character.

It is important to allow older children and teenagers the opportunity to reflect upon the good and bad of many areas of life. You need to relate it to something important to the child or teenager. Solomon related it to food and the provision of food. My father related it to soccer. You'll have to relate it to something important to your child.

As I got older, my father began to include me in family discussions, planning, and decisions. Often, my advice would be immature and ignorant. But it became a teaching time. I would learn how my decisions would adversely affect things. I would be given more information and helped in my considerations. Most people have major regrets from their early adult life. I don't. I believe it is because of this Reflection Technique. I made decisions as a teenager that guided me through much of the turbulent young adult years.

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