Giving the Gift of Character to Children


The most important subjects children can learn aren't graded. (Image: Monkey Business Images via Dreamstime)

The most important subjects children can learn aren’t graded. Those lessons are in strong character and moral values, yet we seldom receive instruction. Here are some of the best gifts to help introduce those great lessons and build character in your children.

Developing companionship

For children, the warmest love comes from the companionship of parents. Companionship and learning about others begin in childhood with parents, other primary caregivers, and family members. As a child grows and explores the world outside the home and interacts with peers, they begin to understand social mores.

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When 15-20-year-olds were asked about the most lasting memories with their parents, one respondent said:

“One day, my brother and I were sitting on the steps of my school waiting for our mother to pick us up. When she saw us, she raised her arms up with a big smile as if she was waiting for us to fly toward her. I felt so happy!”

But another responded differently:

“My parents like to play with their cell phones all the time, and they don’t care about me.”

When parents have time to be with their children, they should put down the trivial things and create lasting memories with them.

A family preparing food together.
Companionship and learning about others begin in childhood with parents, other primary caregivers, and family members. (Image: Fizkes via Dreamstime)

Giving thanks

Teaching children gratitude at an early age provides them with an outlook that will impact them positively for the rest of their lives. So, how do you do it? The most effective way is to model grateful behavior in front of them. Say “thank you” often to friends and strangers, talk about things you’re thankful for every day, not just at Thanksgiving, and teach them to appreciate all the beautiful things they have in their lives.

Exploring the natural environment

Today’s children and families often have limited opportunities to connect with the natural environment. They spend more time viewing television and playing video games than they do being physically active outside. In addition, a “culture of fear” has parents afraid for their children’s safety outdoors.

At the same time, “stranger danger” means that many children are no longer free to roam their neighborhoods or even their yards unless accompanied by adults.

Children learn by exploring their environment. Therefore, exploring is expected and essential for them and it is one of the first steps in learning about objects and how to solve problems.

The loss of children’s outdoor play and contact with the natural world negatively impacts the growth and development of the whole child and their acquisition of knowledge. It also sets the stage for a continuing loss of the natural environment.

Love of reading

As parents, we recognize the importance of teaching a child to read as well as they can. Reading instruction is usually one of the first academic activities we attempt at home, and it can be one of the most rewarding. Creating a love of reading offers many benefits to both parent and child.

Academically, if a child likes to read, that child will find studying literature, history, and even science more accessible and enjoyable.

Reading not only gives knowledge and teaches children about the world, but it also helps them to better understand people in a way that nothing else can.

Furthermore, if they learn to love to read and choose good books, they soon learn to feel the power of literature to expand their minds and release their emotions. This can increase their desire to experience that power for themselves, thus enhancing their desire to write.

Parents must give their children a good reading atmosphere and take them to bookstores and libraries often, so they fall in love with reading. Parents must also set a good example by reading themselves and removing obstacles that interfere with reading, such as video games and television.

A girl reading a book.
Reading instruction is usually one of the first academic activities we attempt at home, and it can be one of the most rewarding. (Image: Zackzack via Dreamstime)

An understanding of history

Teaching history to children has many essential benefits. History provides identity and improves decision-making and judgment. History shows children models of good and responsible citizenship.

History also teaches them how to learn from the mistakes of others and to understand change and societal development. Parents should promote this interest by planning trips to various cultural institutions, including art, natural history, science museums, and historical sites.

One of the most exciting things for children in recent years is the creation of living history museums. In these museums, people live and work the way they did in that era, assuming actual settlers’ roles.

As a result, visitors to a living museum often get a more accurate sense of the time by observing and interacting with the person than they would have by just viewing displays of artifacts or homes.

Developing resilience

Famous psychologist Abraham Maslow once said:

“Frustration is not necessarily a bad thing for the child, but the key lies in his attitude toward frustration.”

In China, the tradition of “eating bitter” has been passed down from generation to generation. “Eating bitter” refers to enduring hardships. While adulthood is filled with serious responsibilities, childhood isn’t exactly stress-free.

Children take tests, learn new information, change schools, change neighborhoods, get sick, get braces, encounter bullies, make new friends, and occasionally get hurt by those friends.

What helps them navigate these kinds of challenges is resilience. Resilient children are problem solvers. They face unfamiliar or challenging situations and strive to find reasonable solutions.

When they step into a position, resilient children have a sense that they can figure out what they need to do and can handle what is thrown at them with a sense of confidence.

Translated by Yi Ming

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