Monday, April 11, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit Trees

There are so many ways to develop good character in children. The trick is finding something that works well for your family and being consistent with it.

It seems natural that in order to make good character "grow" in children, one needs to "water" and nurture the good character traits daily. Every child is different. There are different traits that come naturally to each child, and there are usually absent traits that require seeds to be planted in order to grow.

When I ask parents how they discipline, a response begins to roll off their tongue in under ten seconds. Many have invested a great deal of time and research on the topic of discipline. Parents are eager to share their books and successful discipline methods with me. If I ask how they encourage good character in their children, it takes them a moment to realize their method of character building. It seems that a lot of parents build good character but do not take conscience note of their efforts or design plans for their methods. I do not want to make light of discipline in any way, discipline is crucial in raising healthy individuals. However, I do believe it is important to invest time into the tactics of developing good character.

I find that "growing" good character does not come as naturally as "weeding" out bad character. It is easy to notice bad traits such as whining or aggression. It seems less obvious to notice a display of self-control or faithfulness.  As parents, we all want our children to be good, joyful, kind, patient, loving, gentle, self-controlling, faithful, and peaceful people. However, often times we forget to tell our children our views of good character. We discipline them when they fail to meet our expectations. Isn't planting seeds in a garden as important as ridding it of weeds? I should think so, when good fruit is in hope.

I have put much thought into character development this year. I have devoted Fridays to character building. However, it still seems like a constant challenge to remember to nurture good character daily.

Alas, we developed a successful system and daily reminder. We made Fruit of the Spirit trees. I made a template of the fruit of the spirit as referenced in the Bible: goodness, joy, kindness, patience, love, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness, and peace. This scripture was a perfect fit for our family and our hopes for their character. Some families may choose to use a different reference or list of virtues. I have uploaded my template to the download site to share with families.

I printed a copy for each of my children on a different color of paper. I cut out the pieces and applied the words to wood tags using modge podge. The children glued faux floral branches into a small pot and filled the pot with stones for anchor weight. (The stones seem rather poetic in representation of a stable foundation) Their first initial was glued to the outside of the pot.

As a family, we discussed the fruit of the spirit. Throughout the week we give a tag when we notice the specific fruitful trait in the child. As parents, our goal is to aid each child in gaining each fruit tag every week. On Sunday we take the fruit down from the trees and reflect upon the moments that lead to each fruit.  I must stress that the activity is intended to be positive for the children and not meant to focus on any lacking fruits.

Sometimes it takes a great effort to "plant" seeds in order to help a child receive a specific tag. The trees ultimately stand as a reminder for us to work on each trait weekly with our children. It may take an entire day of "gardening" to aid a child in receiving a certain tag. Our children love seeing their fruitful trees each day and we know they understand our character expectations.


  1. Great Lexi! We do (ok, did) something similar. Your post inspires me to get back on that. So true what you said- we focus so much on the discipline and behavior that we sometimes forget the root is much deeper- the character. And where else to find a clear example of God's desire for our character but the fruits of the spirit!

  2. This link to download is no longer it available somewhere?