On the surface, raising morally upright kids may seem like a piece of cake. But once you dial into the practicality of it, you’ll realize that it’s much harder than people think.
One reason this process is challenging is the fact that so many things influence children in the world. From social media to celebrities, their peers and tutors- they all play a part in influencing your child’s character (both positively and negatively).
How, then, can you build strong character in your youngster given all the distractions in their lives? That’s where we come in. In the following post, I have provided helpful tips for building character in early childhood. Let’s dig in:
How to Build a Child’s Character
Model Good Behavior
Have you ever heard a saying such as "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree?" This is an extremely important aspect to consider if you want your children to have good manners.
If you want your little one to grow up having excellent values, you should be their first example of a morally upright human being. For instance, if you don’t want to raise dishonest kids, refrain from lying to them. Similarly, if you want them to be kind, extend your kindness to them first.
Determine Your Beliefs and Share Them
Before thinking of ways to build character in your kids, be clear about the values you believe in.
There are dozens of virtues that have been identified. And while all of them are crucial, you should identify the specific ones that matter to you. Once you’ve identified them, apply them in your daily life. This way, your children will learn from you and uphold them, too.
Sounds pretty easy, right? The truth is, narrowing down the list of virtues that you value more is a tall order. So an easy way to do this is to reflect on your kids’ future. Ten years later, when your kids are all grown up, which character traits would you like them to have adopted from childhood? If you can identify 5 to 10 traits, these represent the values you care about.
Turn Mistakes into Character-Building Opportunities
What is the first thing you do when you realize your child has made a mistake? If you’re like some parents, your first response is to rebuke and ask them to sit in a corner by themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against using time-out sessions as a disciplinary tactic. If anything, multiple studies show that they are effective in correcting misbehavior. What I have a problem with is, parents’ failure to seize these opportunities to train their kids on crucial values.
Once the time-out duration elapses, don’t just let them off the hook. Instead, have a sit-down and explain why their actions were wrong. While you’re at it, identify a value they can learn from their mistakes.
For instance, if your child lied about sharing snacks with their siblings when they didn’t, remind them of the important values of kindness and honesty. Once the discussion is over, ensure they comply with your original request or find a way to correct their wrongs.
Make It Fun
Kids are more receptive to learning something new when the learning process is made easy and fun. Yes, your end goal is to build strong character and teach them values they can apply even in adulthood. However, this doesn’t mean the teaching setting should always be strict and rigid.
For instance, you can develop a reward system for good behavior. Buy your kid(s) a bulletin board with letters that spell the phrase “family time.” Anytime you recognize positive character traits in their actions, they earn the right to add a letter to the board. Once they’ve spelt out the entire phrase, they get to pick a fun activity for the entire family to do together.
Examples of actions that earn them letters include:
- Picking up toys without being reminded.
- Finishing their homework in time.
- Showing compassion to their siblings or peers.
- Owning up to their mistakes.
Use Stories to Teach Values
Our parents and teachers told us stories to convey moral lessons even before books came into the picture.
You can use this same medium to teach your little one(s) different values. Tell them stories from your childhood and present life. You can also narrate stories based on what’s happening in the world or your local community. With each story you narrate, emphasize on the values that can be learned or adopted from it.
You’ll also want to be mindful of the stories you narrate to friends and family members when kids are around. These tales show your kids how different values guide you in different aspects of your life.
Ask Questions to Gauge Character Development
You can teach your child multiple values and positive character traits. But, how do you know whether they’re upholding them? Well, the easiest way to do this is to ask questions.
Describe hypothetical scenarios to them then find out what they would do if they were in similar situations. Ask yourself, "What would be the best thing to do in this situation A?" “What are some values you can learn from this story?”
At the same time, offer opportunities where they can practice the values they’re learning. For instance, if there’s an upcoming event in your community, have them participate or volunteer in a way. This way, they get to put values such as accountability, respect, responsibility, teamwork and others.
As a parent, you should strive to raise children with strong character and moral values. You can do this by identifying the specific values you uphold and discussing them with your kids. You can also use stories and mistakes they make to teach positive character traits.
More importantly, be a good role model as they’re always learning from you. Also, don’t forget to ask questions to gauge their character development and offer opportunities where they can practice crucial values.