Tedd Tripp has defined building character in children as honoring God when parents are not around to give direction.
This is a wise consideration. The middle years, ages 5-12, are a time of transition. When your child is 5 he is seldom out of your sight. When he is 12 it is quite the opposite. Your parenting must focus on the times when your child is not in your sight. Having this perspective should give shape to your authoritative instruction. If you focus on bargaining, scolding or frustration, these actions provide reasons for your middle children to turn away. This is why pleasant words are essential. They must accompany every aspect of your parenting. (Proverbs 16:20-24) Discipline must always point to Christ. It is biblically inconsistent to engage in discipline and leave your children with the idea that somehow payment has occurred! Only the perfect life of Jesus Christ can can speak to retribution of sins.
Time pressure is like an infection that infiltrates every aspect of parenting. For example, pleasant words require thought and planning. A sharp, quick rebuke is the voice of a parent who has been offended. You want your children to hear the voice of God in your discipline. It takes time to know what needs to be said or not said. It takes time to show the voice of love.
Tedd is also right on target when he exhorts parents to know something about the pressures their children face when they are not present. This also requires time. You have to know who your children play with, the situations they face at school, and what things they fear. You must listen for what they say and just as importantly, for what they do not say. Follow the example of the father in Proverbs 7 and anticipate the temptations your children will face. Doing this successfully while build trust and creditability with your children. The middle years are the perfect time to build this into your relationship with your children. Help them to learn what the temptations are that they will face on a daily basis.
The middle years are a time of preparation. You want your children to learn to live before God, because even when you are not around, God is always there. Training your children to be ready for temptation is not treating them as their sins deserve. It is giving them mercy and love to deal with issues of life.