Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dannah Gresh's new book, Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy: Guiding Your Son from His Tweens to His Teens (Harvest House Publishers, 2012).

While our society often presents unhealthy male role models and celebrates “bad boys,” God’s goal for your son remains the same as it is for every boy He has made: growing up to become a person who reflects God’s own good character.

The best time to lay the foundation of moral goodness in your son’s life is during the tween years, when he is between the ages of 8 and 12. Here’s what you can do to help your son become a good boy who is likely to grow into a good man:

Focus more on God’s promises than the world’s threats. Although the world threatens to influence your son to become a lazy slacker, God promises to help your son become a leader. While the world threatens to pressure your son into becoming a playboy, God promises to shape your son into a gentleman who honors and values women. Although the world threatens to distract your child through things that don’t have eternal value, God promises to show your son His purposes for his life and empower him to fulfill those purposes.

Connect with your son by spending lots of time together. Your son will be motivated to listen to your moral guidance if you develop a strong bond with him by intentionally spending time together talking and doing fun activities that he enjoys. Keep in mind that the concept of “quality time” is a myth; kids need their parents to spend lots of quantity time with them to experience good-quality relationships. Make it a high priority to spend time with your son and sacrifice lesser pursuits so you can be available to him. Try to eat dinner together as a family often, too, such many good conversations happen during meals. While you spend time with your son, study him to get to know the his unique qualities, strengths, and weaknesses so you can communicate God’s values to him in the ways that he will respond to best.

Explain the reasons behind your family’s rules. It will be much easier for your son to follow your family’s rules if he understands why you set them than if he doesn’t know why those rules are important. When communicating a rule to him (or reminding him of one), explain why following that rule will be beneficial to him.

Direct your son’s natural aggressive tendencies and need to take risks toward a positive goal. Realize that it’s normal for your son to experience feelings of aggression and risk-taking urges. But rather than allow your son to express those tendencies in negative ways (which can lead to many problems, such as violence), encourage your son to direct those tendencies toward discovering and fulfilling his life’s mission. Introduce your son to good men whom you respect and admire, and help him learn through relationships with them how to passionately fulfill God’s purposes.

Get your son outside for unstructured play when possible. When your son enjoys free time to play outdoors, he is able to develop a skill called self-regulation that’s a crucial part of developing the self-control to make good moral choices. Freeing up time in your son’s schedule regularly just to play outside with some friends gives him the opportunities he needs to learn how to regulate himself and make wise decisions about what to do and what not to do. Plus, it gives him time spent in nature and time for adventures, both of which are important to his health. When your son plays inside, don’t have him rely on toys to define his playtime. Instead, give him things to play with that encourage him to use his imagination, such as art and writing supplies and building materials.