Developing Character In Your Child

We often are asked to pause and take time to ponder which direction we are headed with our children and/or students. Since our own childhood, times have changed! The world has become a more complicated maze to maneuver within and feeling secure as well as safe is often difficult. Parents, teachers and adults who have contact with children need to work daily together toward the development of character within our children.

True character begins with self-esteem. High self-esteem, true self-esteem comes from believing that one is making the world a better place. Self-esteem when real is self-gard and comes from ethical behavior. Often in America, we are encouraged to be narcissistic, to constantly examine ourselves for dissatisfaction or to evaluate everything and every interaction in terms of what’s in it for us. As the parents and/or teachers of our children/students, we are asked to teach and model prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance. As a result of reinforcing these characteristics we will boost a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and ability to cope as well as survive in our world today as a happy and productive, contributing human being.

The ability to govern and discipline oneself by use of reason is a skill that must be taught by parents, modeled by other adults and requires maturity. Children need to understand that everyone makes mistakes, and that mistakes create opportunities for learning and teaching. “To lose is to learn” – unknown. Mistakes require damage control and steps to prevent the mistake from occuring again. Of course, the goal is to understand that when a problem occurs, everyone is expected to remedy or make amends while learning (sometimes the hard way), which increases self-esteem. As adults, it is important to remember that each mistake is a life lesson.

It takes courage and staying power to survive in today’s world. It is the strength of mind and character which enables one to bear adversity. Modeling for children patience, perseverance, positive thinking, and self-reliance will assist them with life’s difficulties. All adults should avoid overindulgence like the plaque! A child’s every within and desire should not be given into or they will set up for unrealistic expectations. Children should be expected to persist in activities such as baseball, piano lessons, and dance lessons. In building solid character children should be expected to complete homework, finish tasks and chores. Children should be guided to grow away from adults and adult intervention physically, socially, and emotionally. Our job as the adults in their lives is to give them the skills to be independent functioning members of society.

A goal for our children/students is to develop the ability to treat others fairly, look after the rights of others, and thyself. This can happen by encouraging children to stand up for themselves respectfully, show respect to all others even in times of anger, make and keep promises, be honest and judge themselves rather than others. Adults, should reinforce and teach generosity, manners (please & thank you), impartiality and practice problem-solving as well as negotiation skills. Though we work daily to reinforce these skills in school, our job is often difficult when parents do not support the basic values of justice. We ask parents not to rescue or defend their children but embrace teaching their children to deal with situations of injustice through role play and discussion thus empowering them to solve problems independently.

We are seeing more children in school these days who lack self-control and the ability to limit or self-check. Adults must model control of emotions, enforce limits, teach children how to recognize personal warning signs, teach humility and how to establish a balanced life. Limiting television, video games, computer, devoting a special time for family as well as not allowing children to isolate themselves will assist with teaching temperance. Children have to be taught self-control tactics in many cases such as removing oneself to a quiet place, counting to 10, taking a deep breathe, and learning respectful behaviors/language.

As a result of taking time to teach, reinforce, and embrace a character developing attitude with children, and adults will find confidence and self-esteem in our youth today. “We know that success succeeds, that getting things right, mastering something, being productive, accomplishing anything, large or small, feels good and builds our self-confidence and our self-esteem” As adults who spend time with your children we ask for your assistance as we attempt to help your children move through the life lessons that occur when children are in our care. Remind your children that they own everything that they do. That their behavior tells us who they are. they are not separate from their behavior, bad or good, and others cannot make them or cause them to behave in an inappropriate manner and that you will not rescue them from their mistakes. We look forward to getting to know your child and family while welcoming you as part of our New Horizons Country Day School family. Thank you for your continued support of these values in the education of your child!


The Faculty at New Horizons Country Day School

For further information:
“Discipline for Life – Getting It Right With Children” by Madelyn Swift