In raising children, the development of their character has to be paramount. They can be smart and able to learn things like math quickly and well, but if they are not nice, do not know how to share and get along with others, are dishonest or lazy, then their intelligence won’t matter much. Children need to develop a good character, they will gain confidence as they improve and consciously work on the aspects of their character that are most difficult for them. These include things like: Dilligence, Perseverance, Honesty, Integrity, Kindness, Being Happy For Others, Helpful, Empathetic, Hard Work, Cleanliness, Self Starting, Self Awareness, Aware of Others, Disciplined, Focused.
Funny though, how you learn these character traits and practice them by doing other things. It is hard to specifically try to work on a single character trait only. You kind of have to do something else and then apply the character traits to the something else. Some things that build character are working around the house and doing chores, learning a musical instrument, learning a foreign language, participating on a sports team, completing academic classes, following through on an exercise program, or art or science project, renovation work, gardening and much more. It is hard to accomplish much without gaining some character development and some discipline. It really is just the way of life.
Pushing through and continuing to try to learn and understand even when something is hard and/or confusing builds character. Learning to ask for help when you need it builds character. Basically, living life and learning about things as you go along. Character is kind of about learning how to get along well in life- being able to do things on your own without being told, setting goals, following through, watching out for others, etc. So as parents we have to help our kids try new things and follow through when it is hard. And don’t forget as parents we are people too and will/should continue to develop our own characters as well. New experiences and situations give us ample opportunities to grow and do more than we thought we could. This also provides a great example for our kids to follow. We can also help them build good habits by requiring them to take care of themselves and clean up after themselves, and help around them house. We can encourage them challenge themselves with new experiences and through academics.
Religion also helps develop character because it teaches us to think about a higher purpose and to connect with a higher power or God. God can then help us on our way. So also in the character development is the important aspect of building that relationship with God. Learning of HIs goodness and His love. Feeling that love, and wanting to spread that love to others. It is easier to be nice and good and diligent when you know God is watching and approves of your hard work. Being nice isn’t always appreciated, sometimes we are demeaned and made fun of for trying so hard to be good and do the right things- even by people we respect and/or love. Feeling the power and love of God in our life can make up for the sadness we feel when others disapprove and/or mock. Also we have to decide who we want to follow, which influences we want in our lives- what kind of people and ideas we want to have around us.
Being able to keep going and do the right thing even amongst criticism or even mocking is the character trait of resiliency. Life has a tendency to give us plenty of opportunities for this one! But it certainly helps to give it a name and to be able to recognize how resilient we are or are not. Sometimes recognition is the first step. And reading stories of resilient people gives us courage to continue on even though there are hardships- not just in the challenge of building whatever it is we are trying to build, but also in dealing with the naysayers along the way. Sometimes we just have to ignore people. It certainly helps to see examples of this too. There are thousands of good ones throughout history! So learning history can definitely build character too. And spending time around resilient people definitely helps too. And doing things that are hard, and continuing on anyway– that builds resiliency and character too!
So character isn’t really something you can just learn in a day. It is something that has to be built and developed over time through life. Those with a strong character will continue to build an grow and develop, and those with a weak character will flounder until they can figure it out. I think the opportunity of a strong character is one of the most valuable things we can give our kids. And definitely without it, they will be handicapped in a lot of ways.
So one of the many things I have had to learn in my parenting journey is to not shy away from difficulty. The harder something is, the greater the reward often is also. And also you may be learn to disciplined in one area, and then find that you are not so disciplined in another, but since you went through the effort to persevere and become disciplined in that other area- you can find the same inner character and apply it to the new task. Also failure means you are trying. Failure is often seen as a bad thing, but if we can help ourselves and our children see it as a good thing, that will only help us all. Failure is inevitable and certainly one of the main ways we learn. Fortunately we don’t have to only learn from our own mistakes and failures– the smartest among us will learn from the failures and mistakes of others as well! One successful business woman said that everyday at the dinner table her father would ask them what they failed at that day. And if they had nothing, he would tell them they weren’t trying hard enough!!
I think as our children grow it is helpful to have them read self help books and watch personal development lectures. Stories are especially helpful for us. I love Ted talks too. Some of my favorite self- help people are Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn. I love Tai Lopez’s 67 steps– it helped all my kids- he shares stories and information from a wide variety of people focusing on building a life of health, wealth, love and happiness. Listening to positive stories and examples is totally motivating and helpful in continuing on.
Whew- that was long, sometime I’ll add some headlines and images– thanks for reading!!