Saturday, March 3, 2007


Ten Tips for Raising
Children of Character

Courtesy: Kevin Ryan, PhD
Adapted from Building Character in Schools.

It is one of those essential facts of life that raising good
children--children of character--demands time and attention.
While having children may be "doing what comes naturally,
" being a good parent is much
more complicated. Here are TEN TIPS to
help your children build sturdy characters:

1. Put parenting first. This is hard to do
in a world with so many
competing demands. Good parents
consciously plan and devote time to parenting.
They make developing their children’s
their top priority.

2. Review how you spend the hours and days
of your week. Think about the amount of time your children spend with you. Plan
how you can weave your children into your social life and knit yourself into
their lives.

3. Be a good example. Face it: human beings learn primarily
through modeling. In fact, you can’t avoid
being an example to your children,
whether good or bad. Being a good example, then, is probably your most important job.

4. Develop an ear and an eye for what your children are
absorbing. Children are like sponges. Much of
what they take in has to do
with moral values and character. Books, songs, TV, the Internet, and films are
continually delivering messages–moral and immoral–to our children. As parents we must control the
flow of ideas and images that are influencing our children.

5. Use the language of character. Children cannot develop a moral compass unless people around them
use the clear, sharp language of right and wrong.

6. Punish with a loving heart. Today, punishment has a bad reputation. The results are guilt-ridden
parents and self-indulgent, out-of-control
children. Children need limits. They will ignore these limits on
Reasonable punishment is one of the ways human beings have always learned. Children must
understand what punishment is for and know that its source is
parental love.

7. Learn to listen to your children. It is easy for us to tune
out the talk of our children. One of the greatest
things we can do for them is to take them seriously and set aside time to listen.

8. Get deeply involved in your child’s school life. School is the main event in the lives of our children.
Their experience there is a mixed bag of triumphs and
disappointments. How they deal with them will
influence the course of their lives. Helping our children become good students is another name for helping
them acquire strong character.

9. Make a big deal out of the family meal. One
of the most dangerous trends in America is the dying of
the family meal. The dinner table is not only a place of sustenance and family business but also a place
for the teaching and passing on of our values. Manners and rules are subtly absorbed over the table.
Family mealtime should communicate and
sustain ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives.

10. Do not reduce character education to words alone. We gain virtue through practice. Parents should
help children by promoting moral action through
self-discipline, good work habits, kind and considerate
behavior to others, and community service. The bottom line in character development is behavior--their behavior

As parents, we want our children to be the
architects of their own character crafting, while we accept
the responsibility to be architects of the environment–physical and moral. We need to create an environment
in which our children can develop habits of
honesty, generosity, and a sense of justice. For most of us,
the greatest opportunity we personally have to deepen our own character is through the daily blood,
sweat and tears of struggling to be good parents.

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