Age Group: 12 & Under  

As kids, we’re oftentimes told “no” “wait” and “later” and, for some, it might be one of the most frustrating things about being a kid. You’re not allowed to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. Yet as parents, we know we must set these limits and expectations in order that our children can, someday, set these limits for themselves.

This is an activity we might use to help kids think about these small frustrations differently. Rather than looking at each frustration individually, we might redirect kids to think about them as taking small steps towards self-mastery. We usually associate strength with invincibility, superhuman capacities but in reality, we want to associate strength with strength of character and virtue because it is in this much more difficult but worthwhile endeavor that we’re able to manifest our fullest potential as sons and daughters of God.

Materials: paper, coloring materials and stickers


  • We start first with a simple discussion about seeds. How do seeds grow? What do they need? (Sunlight, air, water, nutrients)
  • Today we’re planting some seeds. Seeds start out very small and by looking at a seed, we don’t necessarily know what kind of plant it is going to be. Our seeds will become trees – but what kind of tree will it be? You can decide – it can be a pine tree or an orange or apple tree or even a tree that doesn’t exist – a tree that grows cars or the like. Decide what kind of tree you want to plant! Draw the outline of this tree on a piece of paper and don’t forget to outline some of the “fruits” of the tree so you can remember what kind of tree it will be.
  • Talk about how sometimes we get frustrated about things – we aren’t allowed to do things, we have to wait for things. But when we’re able to overcome these feelings and still be grateful for all the things we do have, we grow our own seeds of character. We’ll use this chart to track our progress. Every time we have a little victory – we can take a sticker to fill up the outlines our trees.
  • Display the picture somewhere to serve as a reminder. You might want to ask your child/children if they had a little victory that day and if they want to share it with the rest of the family. Celebrate the little victories with a sticker to add to the picture. Even if he or she wasn’t able to get a victory that day, gently nudge and encourage them towards the good.
  • Once the tree is filled, consider making a special time during family time for the person to receive recognition for his or her accomplishment. It is also a great way to encourage him or her to reflect on their progress and make new determinations going forward.

As a parent, you might consider making your own tree and sharing your own ups and downs. Most times we focus on teaching our children but the best way to teach them is to become the kind of people we hope they might also strive to be. Sharing – appropriately – our own challenges helps them see growth as a meaningful, lifelong process.

Also, we want to think of this entire activity as a fun, visual way to hone a positive habit in our everyday lives. Like training wheels, we want to use this concept of “seeds of strength” as a way to cultivate the habits of self-mastery in ourselves and in our families.