Building Good Character Traits in Ourselves

Get simple tips to help you develop the character traits you want to have. When you have strong character traits, your kids learn from you.

Mom and daughter clapping hands while sitting on a bed

What do you want to become? Who do you want to be? What do you want your children to become? Who do you want your children to be?

“We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”

(Elder Richard G. Scott)

If you have a character trait that you want to develop–something you really wish defined you–you can’t sit around waiting to “be” that person before you start acting that way. Let’s take honesty. Do you want to be that person who tells the store clerk he undercharged you without thinking about it? Do you want to be someone people know they can trust? If so, then you need to act in that way each day. Do you want to be the nice lady in the neighborhood? If so, you need to act like it. 

You get what you pay for. That is an axiom we are all familiar with. That is true in all aspects of life. It is true in everything from literally paying for an object to raising your children to building your own character. It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes being what you want to become.

This will mean you will need to overcome some of your, to put it bluntly, laziness to become who you want to be. You won’t get there by pretending you are that person. You will get there by being that person. And sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. Go back to that telling the store clerk they undercharged you. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to your car–freedom from the store!–only to suspect you didn’t get charged for it.

You could justify just going along. Think of the things you need to return but haven’t! How about that hairspray bottle that stopped spraying with it still three-quarters full! The store probably owes you money in some way. Even if not, it isn’t your fault that store clerk missed the item and you are just ready to be DONE with shopping. The last thing you want to do is haul your children into the store again.

But you want to be an honest person. Which means you need to be an honest person. Fake it until you make it. Start by checking that receipt and confirming that indeed, you were not charged. I have done that before and pleasantly discovered I was charged! Hurray!

Many times, however, you will indeed have not been charged. The next step is to take the item in, wait in the customer service line, and pay for the item (where the store clerk will likely just charge you and send you on your way without being overly impressed with your honesty).

Despite the lack of accolades, you will feel good. You will know you did the right thing. You are on the path to being what you want to be. Often, actions precede our faith in things. We gain the character trait after we put in the action to earn it. You can’t sit around waiting for the character trait you hope to develop to come naturally to you. 

You will need to evaluate how you spend your time. You can’t wish your way into being anything. Planning is nice, but worth nothing if you never act on it. Spend your time wisely. “You become what you do and what you think about” (Elder Richard G. Scott).

We do all of this for a couple of reasons. One is that we want to become the best people we can become. We want to have great character beyond reproach. We should want that for ourselves as much as we want it for our children. And we do it to be good examples to our children. We are responsible for teaching our children. Always remember that children can sense hypocrisy. If you want your child to have good character, you need good character.

Consider the character traits you would like to build. Consider what a person with that character trait is like, then be that person.

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2 thoughts on “Building Good Character Traits in Ourselves”

  1. So true! Honesty and most moral traits are difficult to grow. However, they will most likely only be practiced/embraced by our kids if we model it. Character building is one daunting duty of parenthood. Thanks for the reminder to defeat laziness and pursue persistence 😊


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