Speak Eagle

How to Persuade Good Character in Our Kids for the Future of America

Good character. It’s gotta start somewhere.

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This week, as we honor the lives of our Veterans, I’m struck by the character of those like my uncle Lance and my brother-in-law Todd who have been willing to serve our country. Courageous, loyal, sacrificial team-players, proudly fighting to protect the red-white-and blue so that we can live freely and safely.

But then I’m jolted from my reverie by loud, high-pitched squealing. My 7-year old runs through the house with his little brother’s teddy bear, taunting, “He’s my teddy bear now!”

Team-player? Doesn’t look like it. Sacrificial? Not hardly. Yet, just 10 years from now, my mischievous son could join the United States Military. Lord, help us all. 

Our little guy who turns everything into a gun (yes- even the candy cane given to him by Santa when he was 2) would be downright giddy holding a real weapon. But- oh my! Could he be a loyal, responsible team player, willing to sacrifice his own life for his brothers?

In The Psychology of Persuasion, professor Robert B. Cialdini suggests that one of the most powerful ways we can persuade others is to give them the opportunity to make a public commitment.

Thankfully, my boys go to an elementary school Nolensville Elementary Schoolwhere the teachers and staff give students the chance to make a public commitment to good character every week at their assembly.

They pledge:

“I am responsible for all my actions and behaviors today. I will listen, do my work, and show respect for others.

I will be a person of good character and Cardinal Pride by doing what is right and the extra.

Having good character is not only how I act in front of people, it is also how I act when no one is watching.”

Character’s gotta start somewhere. And I’m convinced it starts in our homes, our churches, and our schools.

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At the assembly last week, Mr. 7-year old was selected by his teacher to win a “Cardinal Pride Award,” an award given to a child who has gone above and beyond what is expected. Despite the occasional teasing of his little brother, we are so proud of him- for the character we are seeing formed in his heart and life.

As I sat in the bleachers watching the students cheer, I was moved to tears, thankful for our school, hopeful for the future of my sons and for the future of America.

 

Cialdini, Robert B. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Rev. Ed. ; 1st Collins Business Essentials ed. New York: Collins, 2007. Print.

 

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