The Character Construction Site:


Accepting responsibility for and the consequences of one’s own actions and performance, rather than blaming luck or someone else is a tough lesson to learn.  When we take blame and responsibility, we resolve and grow and improve. 

Definition of responsibility = Individuality.  Taking responsibility for own actions.  Overcoming the tendency to blame others for difficulties. 

Use yourself as the model and example.  Talk about taking the blame for mistakes you make.  Say, “You know, that was my fault.  Here’s what I could have done differently…”

Praise.  Reinforce your children when they take responsibility for their successes and their mistakes.  Try to catch them doing something good.  When they make mistakes or fall short, help them accept responsibility for it and praise them for doing so.

Family Activities


The Self-Starter Award
Each week during the month, ask who thinks they are in the running for the Self Starter Award for last week?  Help them think through the week and praise them for every instance of self-starting.  Be sure they understand that self-starting or initiative means doing things without being asked or reminded and doing more than was expected. 


    I’m the one who writes my own story
    I decide the person I’ll be.
    What goes in the plot, and what does not.
    Is pretty much up to me.

If something doesn’t go right for us, who is usually responsible?  (Ourselves.)
Why is it important to be the best that we can be?  (That’s how we write our best story.)

Emphasize Sportsmanship
Help your children consciously define sportsmanship as doing one’s best and being gracious and blaming no one but themselves for the results.  Praise effort and sportsmanship instead of winning. 

Junior High

The Gift List
Ask your child what he or she thinks he’s really good at.  Tell him your observations about his attributes and aptitudes.  Be as specific as you can.  Let the discussion evolve into how unique and important each person is.  Our gifts differ, so encourage him or her to appreciate and value what we are rather than to waste time envying others. 

The Problem List
Ask your adolescent what he or she considers to be his greatest weaknesses or problems.  Your job is to just listen and acknowledge how he or she is feeling.  Ask him or her if she thinks there could be a solution to each problem.  Your job is not to fix.

Avoid Over Protectiveness
Build your adolescents’ self-respect, self-confidence, and self-reliance.  Have clear rules but within these trust your adolescent to follow the rules and handle the situations they find themselves in.  Make a point of telling them this. 

These exercises were excerpted and adapted with the authors’ permission from Teaching Your Children Values by Linda and Richard Eyre, Simon and Schuster, Fireside, 1993.  For more information on their tapes, books and Homebase organization call 801.581.0112.  This is an excellent book with a twelve-month values plan.

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