“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it;
The tree is the real thing.”
– Abraham Lincoln –
Character is defined as the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of a person.
According to Cheri J. Meiners, author of the Learning to Get Along® and Being the Best Me! Series, character is an aggregate of all our traits and includes all of our thoughts, feelings, words and actions.
Our children’s character is molded by their actions and the decisions they make and will affect every aspect of their current and future life.
Building character in children are foundation to a person’s happiness and success in life. Hence, it is important for parents to pay attention in character building of their children and make the effort to build good character traits in their children.
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There are numerous traits that constitute as good characters and some of the popular ones include honesty, kind, courage, compassion, respect, patience, resilience, optimism, gratitude, confidence and determination.
Parents need to decide what good character traits they want their children to grow up with and help their children to develop those characteristics from an early age.
Below are Top 10 tips/strategies adapted from the books by Dr. Michele Borba, Ed.D., an internationally renowned consultant, educational psychologist and recipient of the National Educator Award, author of more than 20 books including
1. Committed to Raising children with good character
Parents who are committed to raising their children with good character tend to have more success as they will put in more effort in developing their children with good character traits in their daily lives. Hence, we the parents should set it as our personal commitment to raise our children with good character traits.
2. Be a good role model
This is one of the most effective way to raise children with good character.
Children like to model their parents, and role play what they see and experience in their daily environment.
Setting good examples on how we treat and communicate with other people, how we care for the environment and animals, and how we behave and handle situations in our daily lives will greatly impact the characters of our children and hence their happiness and success in their growing years.
3. Know Your Beliefs & Share Them
Before raising children with good character, parents should think about what are our values, and what good character traits we want our children to have when they grow up.
Share those values and character traits with our children frequently and explain why those values and characteristics are important.
Rather than hearing different value standards from elsewhere, it is crucial that our children hear from us what our beliefs and expectations are regularly.
4. Use Teachable Moments
The best moments to teach good character traits to our children are often from unexpected scenarios that happen in our daily lives.
Parents can look out for daily news or situations that happen which can give our children a good lessons to build good character.
For example, when a little girl fell down at the playground, parents can encourage our children to help the little girl.
After the incident, parents can use the incident to kick start a discussion on kindness and empathy with our children.
5. Use Discipline as Lesson
Disciplining our children are only effective when our children recognize why their behaviors are wrong and know how to do it correctly when it happen again the next time.
We, the parents should guide our children to reflect their actions and their consequences.
Prompt our children to ask questions such as “Was it the correct thing to do? Why? What should be done if it happens again? What will you do?”
This way, our children will learn from their mistakes and benefit from those lessons.
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6. Expect Good Character
Children who usually display good characteristics are those with parents who expect them to do so.
We, parents should set a standard of conduct, and express explicitly to our children what attributes do we value.
We should also reinforce them constantly so that our children will internalize the values.
7. Reflect on the Behaviors’ Effects
Pointing out to our children what are the consequences of their actions and the impact they have, especially when the decision they make involve another person.
This will help our children learn how to put themselves in the other parties’ shoes and feel how the other parties must had felt.
Highlighting the feelings of the victims to our children will help to build their empathy and make them more aware of how their behaviors and actions impact on other people.
8. Reinforce Good Character
One of the easiest and effective way to help building character in children is to reinforce and highlight to them when they display the good character traits.
We, parents can on purpose catch our children displaying the good character traits, then acknowledge them by praising them and describing what they did right and why we appreciate what they did.
Often, what our children want are simply our acknowledgement that reinforce and strengthen their belief that they are making the right decision and action.
9. Prioritize Good Character Traits on a Daily Basis
We, parents can encourage our children to display good character traits daily and help them see the positive effect their actions have on others and to the world.
Parents can encourage their children to talk about the good deeds they perform, the little things that happen in school or the incidents they encounter and experience in their daily lives.
Those scenarios can be used to discuss and identify what are the values and how their values are applied.
Regular emphasizing on the importance of those values, and practice those values over time will help our children internalize them and incorporate them in their daily lives.
10. Incorporate the Golden Rule
“Treat others as you want to be treated”, this golden rule that guided civilization for many centuries, should be taught to our children.
This rule will guide them to think of the consequences and the impact their behavior have on others before they act.
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It is important that parents recognize that they play a major role in the character building of their children and how important good character is to the children having a happy and successful lives when they grow up.
We, parents should incorporate the strategies to raise our children with good character in our everyday lives so that our children can internalize those good character traits.