Building Children's character

September 11, 2008

Character building for children isn't a course offered in school, but it should be. Here are suggestions for character building ideas

Character-building themes for kids and others: it sounds simple. Schools should teach character-building. Unfortunately many school districts do not consider this an important subject. However, the trend is changing. Parent and civic groups have urged school groups to include character-building in the curriculum. 

Parents and teachers need to take time to build character in kids, and in themselves. Here are eight character building ideas to discuss at home, at school, at community groups, and churches, to build better character for a better America. 

Respect: What does this mean? It is to show regard for the worth of someone else as well as yourself. If you don't respect yourself you can't respect others. So respect starts with yourself and in taking pride in your achievements and your potential. It also fosters self-control of your actions and emotions so as not to hurt other people's feelings. 

Respect also should be shown to people in positions of responsibility and authority such as parents, teachers, ministers, librarian, police and firefighters. Along with that should be an appreciation for the importance of the effort these people made to become authority figures. They have had to go through years of training in school and through internship before joining the ranks. 

The final element of respect is to be punctual. When you have an appointment or tell someone you will meet them at a certain time, be prompt. 

Open the discussion on respect with questions rather than answers. For example: 
How does wearing clean clothes to school show respect for yourself and your school? 

When you are with your friends do you listen to their opinion? Do you go along with them because you are agree or because you want to be liked? How does this affect your sense of self-respect? 

In school, how can you show respect for your teacher? Would you consider it respectful to talk in class during a lesson? Would you ever call your teacher by his or her first name? 

If you pass a police officer on the street what should you do? Would you greet the officer in a friendly manner? Would you call the officer a name and run off? 

How can you show respect in the library? Do you think it is right to fool around in the library or make unnecessary noise? How would you show respect to the librarian? Would you address her by calling "Hey you?" 

The library is also a place with valuable books used for entertainment and research. How do you show respect for books in a library? If you take books off the shelf who should return them? You or the librarian? 

The questions might seem simply but if children are taught the proper way to act, they won't know what is right. 

Respect starts in the home and goes both ways, from parent to child and child to parent. How can a parent show respect to a child? What if a child asks a simple question? Should the parent recognize the child doesn't know the answer and help him or her or tell the child to shut up? 

Respect also goes both ways in school. As a former teacher I respected my students. I listened to their concerns and found ways to help them whether it was a social problem or an education problem. I did not take their fears as silly and childish. To the children their fears are very real. 

Go through other examples of how to show respect. Discuss ways to improve attitudes towards authority figures and why that is important. 

Character building won't take a day or a week or a month. It is something which should be continued throughout the child's life. There are times children will come home from school with problems with the teacher, or other students. Through character building discussions you can explore positive ways of dealing with problem people. 

In the end you, your family, your children, and our entire society will benefit. The more we respect others, the more we are respected.

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