Building character in children and youth – A bouncing and stretching article- Part 2

Learn how you can help your child learn to bounce back and stretch their limits when setbacks happen. Seven easy ways to build resilience in kids.

This is part two of a two part article by Michigan State University Extension. What makes up character is deteremined by individual families and parents, however, there are qualities that we want all children to have such as the ability to determine right from wrong. Character is one of the 7 C’s of resilience. Parents need to take an active role in helping their child develop character. They can do this by providing feedback, direction and being positive role models for their children. Children learn character by observing adults around them. How adults interact with others both in and outside the home are crucial teachers in your child’s character development.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg lists 15 categories that can help contribute to conversations about actively building character in your child. Part two of this article will explore the last eight categories.

Be there to filter media messages: Enjoy entertainment with your child, but be sure to discuss what they are seeing and hearing and screen what they are listening to and watching.

Work toward a better world: Show your child that you care about your community by volunteering or doing small acts of kindness for those in your community.

Give charity: Giving in any amount in the name of charity shows your child that we are all responsible to others and that we should because it is the right thing to do.

Honor differences: Respecting our own values but also showing respect for others’ values, even if we don’t agree with them or value the same things, shows children that differences are not good or bad and that we can get along even with differences.

Avoid predjudice: Children need to be able to thrive in a diverse and connected world. Exposing them to many different types of cultures, religions, ethnicities, economic conditions and physical differences (and many other types of differences) through the use of books, media, dolls, museums and interacting with people that are different from them can help them understand and appreciate differences.

Care about nature: Focusing on activities that support the environment can help teach children to care about nature and take care of their environment and show them that we are all connected by our environment.

Belive in something bigger: Believing in something bigger than yourself can provide connection and additional character building opportunities and role models for your child.

Be human: Don’t pretend to be perfect! Make mistakes, but take responsibility for them. Allow children to see you struggle and how you problem solve and prevail. This allows them to know that they don’t have to be perfect.

For a deeper look at helping build character in children and youth, check out Building Resilience in Children and Teens by Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg. For more information and resources about developing resiliency in children and youth, visit Fostering Resilience, the Search Institute and the Devereux Center for Resilient Children. For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the MSU Extension website. This is the part two of the fifth article in a series: Bouncing and stretching, Building competence in children and youth, Building confidence in children and youth and Building connection in children and youth.

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