For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


An integral part of homeschooling is working on our children's character. What a challenge! A character trait that we have been working on at our house ,for the past few weeks, has been diligence. I do not know about anybody else, but here complaining is a standard attitude, especially when it comes to school, work or practice. And of course, that kind of attitude is not pleasing to God and frankly can become rather irritating. The "but why?", "Again!", "But it is going to take so long!", "But I want to play", "But this is too hard", "But I did not play!" (after having played for 1 hour or 2), or just the frowning and grumbling, all of these are speaking loudly about the heart attitude. Attitude do not just come up out of the blue, they are fed by what our minds think and what our hearts believe. That is why, in addressing attitudes, we need to search into what our children believe and think, and address it byworking hard at correcting any thinking error.

With Zach I had realized that he had wrong beliefs about work. You could see that he was viewing anything that was not play as an interruption of his fun, and also, resisted the imposition of others on his life. His thoughts were : "work is an interuption to my fun in life" and "I should be able to do what I want to do". So these were what I needed to address. And so I did.

The Bible has a lot to say about complaining, work and being diligent so I figured I better work on this very diligently.

What is diligence: Working hard and putting my best in everything I do.
Verses to support the teaching on diligence: Philipians 2 :14-15, Provers 10:4, 14:23, 6:6-9, 2Thessalonians 3:10-12, Hebrews 6:12
Teaching diligence goes hand in hand with teaching about work and laziness.

One thing I did, to reinforce these values, and which helped a lot, was to take away his toys. He loves his toys too much, and since having fun was the main thing for him, taking away his toys was a concrete way of bringing him to that realization, and forcing him to see playing as something we do after our work is done. Though I believe to a certain extent that play is a child's work, it can become an idol, and we as parents must beware of that. You know when that is the case. Doing that, got the message across.

Another thing I did was to explain to him how work can be enjoyable and is not always a burden (and what I call work is doing school, helping at home with putting away the toys, setting the table and the likes).

We are only starting to see the benefit of that focus teaching now, and it is so great to do school with a diligent child. The complaining pops up from time to time, but don't we all have that tendency (I know i do), and he is only 5. But often time, when he complains he himself says,"I am not being diligent?" or I jsut have to say "Are you complaining?" and he stops.
I am sure it is going to be an ongoing process but seeing the improvment is certainly encouraging.

One other note. I try to make sure that I acknowledge every time he shows diligence. These days, since he is into Bob The Builder, I let him watch a video, after he completes his school work diligently. I think that helps a lot in demonstrating that doing things diligently reaps reward, since he was not quite getting the concept that when you work diligently, you get time to do things that you actually enjoy more. With other character traits, like first time obedience, i make sure I acknowledge it verbally with a phrase like "that was good obeing right away!"

And lastly but not least, I do not need to remind us that prayer is paramount in the training of our children's heart and mind! The Lord is able!

Helpful ressources:

Parenting with Scripture


Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character by Scott  Turansky and Joanne Millerby Kara Durbin

Kathy hat her blog Teaching Good Things has great posts with quotes and thoughts on this whole topic of diligence.
Characterjournal has good unit studies on different character traits

Have a great day, Joelle


Anonymous said...

What a GREAT post! I have been thinking the past few days how I need to work on diligence with my kids. I am glad to know it is not just my kids who say those things when asked to work. Sometimes they are better than others but whenever we get out of our routine ( which is not strict by clock time but I have my routine breakfast, get ready for day, 1 chore, school, free time, chore, etc.) it is hard to get back into it.

We tell our kids God created us to work not play. You don't work, you don't eat. We actually made them miss a meal once.

Thanks for the scripture back up also.

I will pray for your kids and diligence. You seem like a good mom, thanks to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I have browsed your blog some and enjoy it so far. I look forward to looking more and reading your posts.


P.S. I found your post on my friend's blog whom you recently commented on... "Our Family Life."

kristenph said...

Unfortunately, we still have plenty of complaining around here and my oldest is 11. One verse we use a lot is "Do all things without murmurings and disputings". (Phil. 2:14)

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