How To Raise a Child of Character
How many of you think there are many children that struggle with communicating their needs, thoughts and feelings with words and instead are physically impulsive? Whether you have noticed this behavior challenge with your own children, or in your observation of other children, it does exist for many. Bullying is now in the forefront of media coverage, and it seems that too many children are disinterested and have no concern over another child’s feelings.
Some children barely stop for a moment to consider their own feelings or another’s feelings, and how their choices impact others. But, a child that is a) interested in the thoughts of others, b) shows empathy, c) has the skill to express her thoughts with words instead of “acts out” her feelings (e.g., misbehaves), and d) has the ability to negotiate with words, can compromise, and has a positive sense of self, is less likely to make intentionally hurtful choices towards another; she is less likely to be a bully. In essence, a child that exhibits the aforementioned skills is on the road towards being a person of character.
There is a direct connection between a child’s lack of empathy, a lack of taking ownership of his own actions, and a lack of communication skills. Your child’s ability to communicate in a healthy interactive manner that reflects good character should include sharing his feelings in a style that acknowledges the other with whom he dialogues, caring about and being interested in the other person’s thoughts and being interested in trying to understand his own thoughts.
The selfishness of being wrapped up in himself and what he needs emotionally, rather than considering not only what another child needs but also how his own actions affect another’s life experience, can be changed, taught, learned, and improved. It is our job as parents to teach and model those lessons.
Having great character includes caring for and about one’s self and others. This can be a “both/and” experience rather than an “either/or” life philosophy. Parenting absolutely impacts children’s development of character!
Here are four important life skills for your child to develop that will play a significant role in building his character:
1. Show empathy
2. Have the ability to compromise and negotiate
3. Take ownership of one’s own actions
4. Express one’s feelings and wants with words rather than with impulsive behavioral reactions
In an effort to help your child develop empathy, teach him that “What the other person does says more about him than it does about you.”
Teach your child this statement about others and help him to understand what it means by offering concrete examples to which he can relate. Then, to make sure he really understands this concept, ask him to share with you an example that proves this statement is true.