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Simple Steps to Building Character in Children

By Jamell Andrews

In an effort to teach children how to be responsible, respectful, and honest throughout their lives, schools throughout the United States have implemented structured character education classes. For the most part, parents are extremely supportive of these types of programs because they want their children to learn how to respect others, how to have integrity, and how to exhibit self-control.

Building character is also the responsibility of parents, however, so it is not something that can just be left up to school systems to take care of. Teaching and helping your children to build solid characters is one of the most difficult and time consuming parts of parenting, but there are some general tips you can follow that will help you to put your children on the right path from an early age.

  1. Parenting should always come first – this may be one of the most basic, yet challenging things for busy parents to do. There are so many demands on our time that it is often an easy thing to pass on spending quality time with your kids. Good parents make time to spend with their kids on a regular, consistent basis, and it goes a long way towards developing strong, positive character traits in children.
  2. Set a good example – it is very important for parents to be exceptional role models for their children. Like it or not, your kids look to you as an example of how adults should behave, so you will be the biggest influence in shaping your children’s character traits.
  3. Pay attention to what your children see and hear – kids tend to absorb pretty much everything they are exposed to (good and bad). Carefully monitor what your kids watch on television, what they do online, the songs they listen to, and the books that they read. All of these have a tremendous influence on developing children’s characters.
  4. Listen to your kids – this is just as important as spending quality time with them. Take the time to listen to what they have to say and most importantly, take them seriously when they talk to you.
  5. Practice responsible punishment – punishment tends to get a lot of bad press these days. People report that parents take things too far or not far enough, which results in children that are out of control and undisciplined. Punishment has always been part of the way that human beings learn, and if used in a reasonable manner, it will only serve to strengthen your children’s characters.
  6. Use clear language – children can only learn to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong through the use of clear, direct language. If you are direct with your kids, it will help them to develop a clear sense of how to behave throughout life.
  7. Make family meal time important – the trend in America for the past couple of decades has been for family meal time to gradually die out. Fewer and fewer families sit down to have a regular meal together, and the result is a loss of values and ideals. Children learn a great deal about manners, rules, and values through shared meals with their families, so it is important that parents make every effort to keep this tradition alive.

One Response to “Simple Steps to Building Character in Children”

  • Enjoyed reading your post. Agreed with everything you wrote and would add that punishment closely related to the misbehavior, or that is a natural extention of the behavior works best. Children are more likley to see the punishment as a natural consequence for their own poor decisions than as revenge from an angry mom or dad.

    Also appreciated the inclusion of the often-neglected family sit-down dinner. Not only is it a great opportunity to talk and connect as a whole family, and not only do children pick up on manners and patience and the like, but dinner time is a wonderful opportunity lost by families that have allowed it to fade away to directly talk about moral issues.

    I look forward to returning to your site to read more of your ideas on raising moral kids!

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