The importance of building your child’s character
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”. Growing this tree well is a lifelong investment that any parent can give a child.
Street crime has increased and the culprits seem to be getting younger. Who is to be blamed for this? Peer pressure? Schools that did not feedback to parents when kids begin acting out? Or parents who never took the time to draw attention to the importance of good character?
The importance of a good character in a person spells R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Good character embeds a positive attitude and confidence within a person. There is nothing more impressive than a person who goes for a job interview and displays a fine character. Studies have shown that people have been hired on more occasions due to displays of good character than the excellent academic qualifications they may possess.
It is no easy feat to teach a child right from wrong but an easy way is to lead by example. In wanting a child to be truthful, honest, trustworthy, forgiving and respectful, what better way to teach than to display these characters yourself? Jenny Otto, 22, remembers watching her mother helping out around noon on certain days in a soup kitchen for the homeless in New York City when she was around 5 years old. By the time she was in high school, she knew what her free time would be busied up doing – filling tummies with bowls of soup.
Another way of ‘funning’ the building of your character is to engage your child in charity, for example, helping out in aged homes, visiting orphanages and playing with the children, or visiting cancer-stricken children in hospitals. By engaging in such activity, not only is your child’s character being built, but the bond between you and your child is being strengthened as you spend time with her.
Some kids may possess good characteristics out of nature. Some children would willingly share their things while others may whine and pout about it. At times, stealing and lying turn out to be a dare a child has within herself. Explain to your child clearly the effects of such actions.
Never be stingy with words of praise when your child has done something praiseworthy. If he or she has come to you and told you the truth that yes, she did hide her little brother’s toy, instead of yelling your head off on impulse, thank him for the honesty and slip in a gentle reprimand for the action of the ‘toy hiding’. If your child has made the bed or fed the family rabbit without being asked to, a pat on the back and a praise word should be given. After all, a little praise goes an extremely long way.
If your little one finds the idea of character building a bore, change the format you are delivering it to her in. What might grab attention would be donning a superhero costume and pretending to be a certain character trait for the weekend. For example, ‘Super-Responsible-Man’ might be one identity you can adopt where you take your little one and go around the house fixing whatever that needs fixing, cleaning pets’ cages, etc. You can even use your little one as your sidekick!
The importance of character building in a child should never be pushed away because of age or anything else. A child knows right from wrong from a young age and leading him down the right path will be fruitful for him in life later.