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Character Matters
April 1, 2009
Character Trait – Attentiveness:
Check It Out. – What Does It Mean? – Why Does it Matter?

Dr. Johnson's quote calls attention to a vital element of a child's training – reminding the student of important information. A good portion of our job as parents and educators is to train our children to be attentive, not only when we are instructing them, but to the day-to-day details of life that can be boring and tedious.

Attentiveness is an attitude or mindset that is heedful, observant, watchful, and intent. It regards things with care. It is the opposite of rushing through things just to get them done. It is not just a matter of finishing the workbook or earning the credits. It's about taking into consideration everything that is to be gained through the experience of learning that skill or concept. It is not so mindful of the finishing line as it is how well the race was run.

Attentiveness helps a student stay focused on a task when it is boring, difficult, or the opposite of the child's natural way of learning. Even if the material has been covered before, an attentive student asks, “What more is to be gained here?” It's the same attitude that great scholars understand when they say that the more they learn, the more they realize how much they don't know.

Parents need attentiveness as much as students. Attentiveness keeps us watchful, ensuring that we follow through in disciplining our children. It helps us be consistent in our discipline, even when we're tired and it seems easier to just “let it go” this time. Attentiveness reminds us that training is a process – sometimes a slow one.

Teaching our children discipline, manners, and character more often than not requires reminding rather than instructing. Children test their boundaries, get carried away with their emotions, or just plain get lazy. And, of course, Spring Fever doesn't help much!

We parents are just as susceptible to lack of attentiveness as well, especially as the academic year winds down and we are mentally and physically tired. That's why God's Word reminds us to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God in victory and power (Hebrews 12:1, 2). The joy of raising up our children in the admonition of the Lord is before us. May we be attentive and not grow weary in well-doing.

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