As parents, one of our main concerns is to strengthen the character of our children. We want them to be kind, honest, generous, responsible, humble –truly, the list of values is endless. So much so that we can feel overwhelmed by “all the work” we have to do, especially in the first years of our children’s lives.
It is important to know that every child is born with a different temperament with unique qualities and gifts. For some it is easier to share their toys than for others. Some do not like to lie, some are shy, while others are brave and very courageous. No matter what the nature of your child is, you must be sure that he or she was born with all the necessities for a successful life. You must simply help strengthen those skills. But, how? How to get started?
Have you ever thought, “My son is very selfish. How I teach him to share his things?” “My daughter always gets angry with her friends. How I can teach her to treat others with kindness and respect?” The most important thing is to understand that children will first follow the example of adults to develop and strengthen their virtues and values. Parents, family and teachers are the first examples related to learning how to develop courage, honesty, generosity and respect.
Here are some tips to help your children develop character:
1. Talk to them about values: It is important to talk to your children about the values that are important to the family and explain to them what they are. While your children are small you can teach through stories and everyday examples. Entyva cards are an ideal tool in this regard as they show everyday situations for children which are narrated by a child character with whom they can identify.
2. Motivate them: You can motivate your children by simply letting them know that you’re sure they can do it alone. If your child is selfish you can say, “I’m going to stop reminding you that you do not have to be selfish, because I know you know it and you can do it alone.” Let him know when he has small successes and that you value these successes. If your daughter, for example, does not like to share toys, you can say, “I noticed that you lent your favorite toy to your friend. That’s good,” but you do not have to give a reward or prize.
3. Give them feedback: For most parents, it is easier to comment on the negative behaviors of their children. If your child gets angry or throws a tantrum, you forget that they only do it sometimes and say things like, “You are just always misbehaving.” We tend to generalize and highlight negative attitudes. Unfortunately we do not realize that when we are constantly highlighting the negative attitudes of children, they end up “believing it.” So it is very important not to overlook the good attitudes of your children and strengthen them with good observations because eventually these “good” comments form the character of your child. How different is it to say, “You never lend your toys,” compared to saying, “How nice that you share your toys with your friends. You’re very kind to them.”
4. Promote good deeds: The opportunities to have your children do good deeds will be important for the development of their character. It is important to encourage them to participate in activities like volunteering or doing charity events. For example, from time to time ask them to help you take toys they no longer use which may be donated to other children. This way you’re teaching them to share and not be selfish with their things.
5. Establish expectations and limits: Defining limits on your children’s behavior helps establish yourself as leader of the family and, in turn, will give you a sense of security. It also gives them the peace of mind that this is your way of helping strengthen their character.
6. Remember, you are the parent, not your child’s best friend: Nowadays this is a common misconception. Parents seek to be their children’s best friends under the guise of being their confidants. We forget that we are adults for a reason and we are here to help our children discover the world with our own experience. It is best that we guide our children.
7. Assign responsibilities to family members: Many times you will find it easier to clean the table, take out the trash and wash the dishes yourself, than to wait for your kids to do so. But remember that it is our duty as parents to help them achieve a balance between their needs and desires, such as balancing family and each of its members in particular. This attitude is reflected in their participation in society.
8. Speak with your children: It’s unbelievable how important it is to talk with them. Just by discussing how they did at school you can find themes to highlight their good behavior or reinforce empathy, responsibility, honesty, etc.
The character development of children begins at home and continues at school. Today, schools and teachers are very open to working together with parents. There are even work projects that start in school and continue in the home for a coherent educational process for children.
Remember that every child is different and each has its own pace of learning, so try not to judge, criticize or compare your child to other children. Your child is unique and has you to help him. Enjoy being the best example you can be!!
Text Adaptation: Magdalena Olivares. Enjoy Life Skills Development Manager