Character education covers a wide range of topics. It includes teaching children social skills as well as moral values such as honesty, unselfishness and tolerance. Other important character building skills include interpersonal skills such as teaching children good manners, how to get along and work well with others and anger management. Learn our Top Five Tips for Character Education Directed to Children!
It is not easy to teach a child moral skills in today’s world. TV shows, children’s cartoons, games and even many children’s internet sites glorify lying, stealing, fighting and other unacceptable forms of behavior. However, it is possible for parents to provide a sound moral education for their youngsters. Following are some good tips on how to go about doing this.
Character Education Traits: Setting an Example
Children are more astute and a lot smarter than most parents realize. They will soon see through any hypocritical attempts to get them to behave differently from their parents. If parents want to be successful in teaching their children to have a strong moral foundation, they must themselves exhibit a strong moral foundation in their own lives.
Parents who shoplift will soon find that their youngsters will pick up on the habit and may even graduate from this relatively petty offense to more serious crimes such as burglary or armed robbery. Parents who take drugs should not be surprised when children show an interest in illicit substances as well.
At the same time, parents who refrain from illegal or obviously immoral behavior are still sometimes guilty of setting the wrong example for children. If a child picks up the phone when a parent is at home and the parent instructs the child to state that he or she is not at home, this teaches children that it is sometimes OK to lie to people. Parents who swipe pencils and pens from the office are likewise teaching children that it is sometimes permissible to take what does not belong to them.
While parents will never be perfect, they should strive to emulate the right standard of behavior. When the parents make mistakes in front of their children, they should apologize to their children and remedy the mistake if this is called for. This teaches children to respect the values that the parents are trying to instill in them.
Character Education Traits: Keeping Tabs on Internet Usage, Games, Movies and Books
Parents should keep a close eye on what children are seeing and hearing. Parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers should only allow children to watch pre-recorded shows or shows that have been downloaded onto a computer. Thankfully, there are numerous good shows available that promote educative content and sound moral values; some good programs of this nature include Treasure Attic, Baby Einstein and Blue’s Clues.
When children get older, they will naturally want to watch popular movies, cartoons and TV shows. Even so, parents should agree on rules governing what sorts of books and movies are and are not permissible. Ideally, parents will want to find out more about any given TV show, movie or book before giving it to a child; this can be done by quickly previewing the book or movie ahead of time or finding out more information about it online. Time permitting, parents may want to read a book or watch a movie with a child to address morally inappropriate behavior and answer any questions a child may have.
Character Education Traits : Laying Down Guidelines for Unacceptable Behavior
A very important aspect of character education is laying down guidelines for unacceptable behavior. While many psychologists still promote the theory that children should be permitted to do as they please, many sensible parents have now come to the realization that children need and even appreciate boundaries and guidelines.
A very general yet very helpful set of guidelines on Character Education Values would be as follows:
– You may not hurt yourself
– You may not hurt others
– You may not damage things
These guidelines encompass what are and are not acceptable forms of behavior. Parents can then build on these guidelines by explaining to children which forms of behavior are not permissible and setting down consequences for unacceptable behavior.
Naturally, the consequence for any given offense will depend on the age of the child. A two year old who bullies a peer should be given a “time out” of no more than five minutes; an older child who engages in this same behavior may need to be grounded for a weekend. As children get older, certain rules will probably need to be changed, although the basic guidelines behind any given rule will always remain in place.
Children who are older than five or six years of age will appreciate the opportunity to sit with parents and help to draw up a list of guidelines. This time is great for instilling moral values in children, as parents can explain not only what the rules are but why certain rules are important. Children and parents should also come up with a list of consequences for not keeping certain rules. A child who helps to make the rules with the parents will usually be more inclined to keep these rules than a child who is not in any way involved in the rulemaking process.
Children should also be allowed to face the full consequences for their actions. For instance, a child who swipes an item from a friend at school should be made to return the item and apologize. A child who does not care for his or her toys should not have these toys automatically replaced when they break or stop working. An older child who chooses of his or her own free will to sign up for a class or sports team should not be permitted to drop out of the activity or drop off the team without a valid reason.
Character Education Traits : Actively Teaching Moral Values
Parents will want to do what they can to actively teach their children moral values. If a child is going through a particular phase (i.e. being disobedient, lazy, argumentative, etc) then parents should talk to the child about this particular issue and help him or her overcome the problem.
YouTube and various children’s websites have morally uplifting stories, songs and videos that can be used to provide moral training on any given topic. By doing an internet search on any given theme, parents can find numerous free resources that will help them teach their children important moral skills. Parents can also find good books on any given topic at a local library, book store or even flea market sale.
One particularly important aspect of moral value education is teaching children to care for others. There are many volunteer opportunities in any given state that permit both parents and children to engage in activities such as feeding the homeless, caring for stray animals and cleaning up a local park. Teaching children to donate unwanted items in good condition to Goodwill or a homeless shelter also imparts good moral values to kids who would otherwise be overly focused on their own needs and wants.
There are even overseas volunteer activities that enable families to not only go on vacation to a foreign country but also help needy residents of this country. Numerous churches provide mission trip opportunities for families with older children and such trips can be ideal for Christian parents who want to help children learn compassion, tolerance and other important values.
Character Education Traits: Start as Early as Possible
The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) in Australia has recently noted that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by the time he or she is three years of age. The earlier a child is taught basic character values, the better. While certain problems do not arise until a child is older and so cannot be dealt with at an early age, babies and toddlers can learn many of the most important values such as kindness, unselfishness, obedience, honesty, perseverance and basic teamwork skills.
The earlier a child is taught basic values, the more likely he or she is to retain these values. Naturally, no child is perfect and all children will at times behave in an unacceptable manner. However, the best advice for parents who want to give their children a sound moral foundation would be to impart moral values to children well before a child starts walking and talking.
Tips for Character Education in summary
Providing a solid character education for children is a long term endeavor, but it is well worth the time and effort spent. Children who learn values such as compassion, honesty and teamwork will be successful in life, even if they are not able to get a high paying job or own all the gadgets or assets that they would like. Children with a sound moral foundation are also happier and more at peace than others who were raised to believe that doing what feels good at the time is the key to a happy life.