Character Development in Children
What is it?
We often hear people say “he’s got a strong character” or “he’s got a weak character.” How is a person’s character built up? Can parents influence their child’s character? The concept character is often mixed up with temperament and personality, which are different concepts. Here’s a specific example: the famous Russian playwright Chekhov was an even-tempered, shy, and tactful person, yet in a letter to his wife he wrote: “You are writing in your letter that you simply envy my character. I should tell you that I am a hot-tempered person by nature, and I always control and keep it inside because letting it out is inappropriate.” We can draw a conclusion that every person can change and improve under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, a person’s bad temper or difficult nature are serious faults which often interfere with talent, and another great Russian writer -- Dostoyevsky -- is a vivid example of it, whose weird behaviors caused great tension with his relatives.
What qualities should parents develop in their child?
Emotional, intellectual, and moral qualities develop in childhood, and parents’ words and actions influence their development. If you want your child’s intellectual qualities (reasoning, logic, power of observation) to progress, playing different games (math bingo, word games) are of great help. Teach your child to see the cause-and-effect relationship by creating a new ending to a story or a fairy tale. Reading, writing, counting, and poem-memorizing are great intellectual activities.
Keep in mind emotional qualities as well; confidence, vivacity, and cheerfulness are some of the most important traits within a child. Try to teach your child to experience different emotions: make him or her responsible for the family pet, play active games, watch theater performances and cartoons, listen to music, and dance with him or her. Be generous with praise. Try to avoid statements such as “it’s not going to work,” or “you cannot do it,” because they create fear and a lack of self-assurance. Choose words that don’t program your child for failure. For example, if you see that your child is going to stumble over a doorstep, you should say “be careful” but not “you are going to fall!”
Under parents’ guidance, a child develops qualities such as independence, initiative, and patience. You can teach your child to reach his or her goals step-by-step by splitting a difficult task into several smaller steps or stages. For example, if you teach your child how to ski, begin by practicing easy tasks then make it more difficult as you go. You don’t want to start with hills right away; progress along a series of short steps.
If you want your child to be independent, you should empower him or her with decisions; for example, which cereal to choose for breakfast each day. It’s important for children to makes choices even if their parents guide them in making such choices -- you should never tell a child that his or her opinion doesn’t matter because he or she is too young.
Another important quality that you should help your child develop is patience. Children should know that sometimes they have to wait patiently for their turn in line or wait for their parents to finish an important conversation. At the same time, it’s wrong to keep them waiting for a long time if you are not very busy. Telling a lie to a child is equally wrong; for example, you should not say that a medicine he or she has to take is sweet if it’s not. Tell him or her the truth.
Moral qualities are also important in building up a child’s character. These include honesty, compassion, commitment and teamwork skills.
The mutual trust between a child and a parent starts developing at an early stage of a child’s development. Parents can either encourage or totally destroy it. If you child confesses that he or she has done something wrong, you should try to control your anger and not punish your child -- otherwise the child may stop trusting you and the next time he or she does something wrong you will not know the truth. A child strongly believes in the words of a parent -- they greatly impact his or her future. If your child has taken something that doesn’t belong to them, it would be best not to call him or her a thief because this statement may program the child’s future actions.
To cultivate love and compassion in your child, don’t let him or her torture animals or laugh at those who are in pain. Parents should explain to their children that those who are sick or who are not feeling well need care and attention, and children should be ready to give it to them.
Another important skill that children must learn is to be part of a group – this includes interacting successfully with other children. Explain to your child that there are situations in which you should look
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