Encouraging Your Children with the Core Value Progress Chart

Would you believe that over 17,500 of our FREE resources were downloaded from valuesdrivenfamily.com by parents like you in the last week?! We are pleased that so many parents are eager to better equip themselves for family balance and success. Praise God!

We’re also tickled to find that so many of you share our heart in realizing that our most vital role as parents is in instructing and encouraging our children in Christ-like character. Of all of the free downloads we offer, the hands-down most popular resource was the Core Value Progress Chart, with more than 1,500 copies downloaded! Though we were excited about the interest in this great tool, we were left a bit puzzled. In the back of our minds, we wondered, “just what are parents doing with this chart?” since we’ve really only detailed its purpose and use in The Values-Driven Family, which comparatively few of you have read. So we decided to dedicate a series of newsletter articles (and blogs) to explaining the purpose, use, and power of some of the free tools you’ve recently downloaded. Enjoy!

On the subject of the chart, let’s start by introducing the premise of the core values on which the chart is based. These were not just randomly selected. I (Marc) embarked on a 30-day, verse-by-verse study of what the Bible had to say about family—every page—and took copious notes in preparation for writing VDF. What became obvious in the study was that God cares far more about our being than our doing. The popular “WWJD?” reflects the importance of “doing” what Jesus would do, but our character is of even greater value. What emerged from my study was God’s desire for humanity to manifest certain characteristics—ultimately, to take on the essence of Christlikeness. The 12 values identified through the study are the ones listed on the chart. Since these are the values that God values, they are the character traits that parents need to model, instruct, and encourage their children to manifest.

The chart itself is a practical means to go beyond just teaching children and helps parents to actively encourage them in greater and greater Christlikeness. It is not just a behavioral checklist. Yes, we identify “target behaviors” and both deficiencies and strengths become obvious. However, the chart is best used as a carrot, not a stick. It is designed to call out positive achievements and encourage positive characteristics. It is not about performance only, but also heart condition.

For example, we as parents can be busy all day and our two children can stay out of each other’s way with no discord. By our standards we would say they were good and reward them. However, if they were each doing their own thing all day, were they generous? What about humble? Did they have a surrendered heart? Did they extend themselves to show love through service? The obvious point is that God cares about our heart—and He is concerned not only about what we “do,” but about what we don’t do. As such, we use the chart to monitor outward manifestations of an inward heart condition. A praying child is a child exercising faith. A child who is thankful and appreciative, and verbally praises God, is a child who has a heart of praise. If we want our children to manifest an earnest lifestyle of faith that pleases the Lord when they are emancipated, we have to facilitate the Word traveling the 18 inches from their minds to their hearts. When properly used, the chart is a powerful tool to help accomplish that goal.

How it works: We start our children on charts at age 2—and you would be shocked at how well they understand the values and God’s desire for their conduct at that age. It’s the ultimate tool for making the Word come alive and understandable for someone who otherwise would not be profitably instructed in God’s Word for years.

Every day (we used to do it twice daily, now only once and only on weekdays) before family devotions, we sit down and recount our day, going down the list with the entire family present to see how each child did in living out the values that God values. It is wonderful to hear a little one shout that another shared a toy or praised God! We check off where they exhibited the core value and cross off and encourage better performance where they were deficient. We reward all children who score a 10 or higher with a small treat—literally a small candy—and we give a larger treat, such as a cookie, for a perfect 12. Make it age-appropriate and desirable—not necessarily snacks. At the end of the week we do a count and everyone who averages a 10 gets an ice cream cone. If they collectively average an 11, we go to McDonald’s for sundaes—that’s a big treat in the Carrier household J.

One revelation that was surprising was that we, as parents, never really know what a child’s score will be before we go through the list. We think we know–we may have dealt with a stubborn child who had a problem with surrender or obedience, and would certainly rate them as fail in a pass/fail paradigm. However, it reveals a lot when we hear the child say that they prayed that their attitude would improve, and that they tried to praise God as a way to change the direction of their day. You see, we measure what makes our lives convenient as parents and miss many opportunities to encourage our children in behaviors that are pleasing to God. This tool helps us avoid these blind spots.

The chart comes with a warning: it is only one tool in the tool box! Don’t forget core value lessons, family devotionals, bible study, and prayer. Likewise, discipline as needed and leverage those real-time “teachable moments” all day long. Last but not least, remember that more is caught than taught—our consistent modeling of the core values will carry far more weight than simply going through a chart with the children. The process of using the chart will force us as parents to focus on these character elements ourselves and will give our Heavenly Father an opportunity to minister to our hearts, molding us into Christlikeness at the same time that we disciple our children. Oftentimes it’s an ouch L, but we need it, too!

If you would like more information about how to use this powerful tool and the others mentioned, please pick up a copy of The Values-Driven Family. You won’t regret it. It has impacted countless families like yours and mine, bringing the Word of God where it belongs–in our hearts and in our homes.

God bless you!