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Developing Students with Good Character
Our true character is shown by how we treat all other people
We all want to have a successful life. Some people assume that success is essentially material, and that it can be measured by having money, prestige or an abundance of possessions. Those things can certainly play a role, but having such things is no guarantee of happiness. The type of success for which we should strive includes the ability to love and show compassion, the capacity to feel joy and spread it to others, and the security of knowing that one's life serves a positive purpose. This is often called someone's "character".
Our character is the sum of all the qualities and attributes that make us who we are. Many attributes contribute to our individual character- it's our values, our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Developing these elements can help us build a stronger character. Our true character is shown by how we treat all other people, no matter what they look like, or where they come from. People judge us by our character and not just by our appearance.
There are 6 key messages we can give to our children to help them develop good character:
1. Care about people. Get students to think about how their actions will affect others.
Showing compassion, an awareness of other people's problems and a desire to help others, can involve our family, friends, or even total strangers.
Children are born with the capacity to act kindly toward others. Those children who experience respect and appreciation from adults are more likely to demonstrate caring and respect towards others and to recognize the positive impact of their kindness. Adults play a vital role in whether, or not, children learn to act in kind and caring ways. If we, as parents, act warmly and supportively and if we set reasonable standards of behaviour and consistently enforce them, then we are more likely to encourage kind and compassionate behavior in our children. It is important for children to feel that others also care about them.
Always remember that we become a caring person by doing caring things!
2. Show appreciation; treat small things as important
Everybody enjoys being praised. People want approval and recognition for what they have accomplished. If someone helps us in anyway, we should tell him/her how much we appreciate his/her actions. These helpful actions may not be repeated if we do not show our appreciation. People look for praise from others, but we should only praise people when they deserve it and our praise should be warm and sincere.
3. There are few things that we can accomplish totally by ourselves
Children are not automatically cooperative. This learning takes place slowly, but the foundation can be laid early in life. We can create opportunities for the development of cooperation. Being a good role model is one of the best ways to teach cooperation because children imitate the actions of the people who are important for them. As television, movies, books, recordings and videogames exert more and more influence on our children, we need to make an effort to screen media and choose only those that show good friendship, unselfishness, giving, and/or acts of kindness.
4. Integrity is practicing what we believe
Integrity is not a value that is simply passed on to children. It is something that must grow inside them. Integrity is like a code of honor. If we have integrity, it means that we have certain values and beliefs that we consistently live by. It is also mean we respect the values and beliefs of others.
Children need to understand that integrity is a process and not a quick fix. We need to draw a line, but make room for errors, since everyone makes mistakes. The key to maintaining integrity is through accountability, and being responsible for the commitments we have made. Integrity means keeping our word, and "cleaning" up if we let someone else down.
5. Respect everyone, because everyone is important
Show your regard for other people's feelings or possessions. This is an attitude that we should constantly display, because showing respect to others is a big part of how we demonstrate our character. Children learn how to value other people and institutions from their parents. Parents who put down other people are teaching their children that other people are unimportant. We should be aware that the way we treat our child sets an example for how our child should treat others. If we want our child to respect the rights and feelings of others, we should begin by respecting our child's rights and feelings.
We shouldn't judge a person based on his or her outer appearance and other superficial attributes.
6. Value differences, and accept them
We need to be open-minded as we explore the world and meet new people. Home is where learning about difference begins, but it need be practiced in public. Valuing difference can be a difficult thing to teach to our children, mainly because we need to teach them also not to value everything around them indiscriminately.
Limited exposure to others with different backgrounds and differing views allows prejudicial attitudes to fill the void of knowledge and acceptance. What we don't know can be frightening and what frightens can make us defensive and offensive.
Children learn kindness and to value difference by the teaching they receive, the way they see others interact, and by practicing gentle treatment to others. Teaching children to think of others takes very little effort. These are plenty of opportunities in daily life.
The great humanitarian, Albert Schweitzer, suggested that adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, and the third is by example. An undeniable truth about parenting is that children learn best by example-the "monkey see, monkey do" approach, not "do as I say".
Children learn constantly from the words and actions of the adults around them. There are many actions that we, as parents, can do to promote good character in our children.