Your Kids Be Of Good Character?
By Gary Direnfeld M.S.W.
some point most parents think about the kind of person their child
will grow up to be. This is different from what they may do for
a living. This involves issues of integrity, honesty and caring
for others. Will your child grow up to be of good character?
answer to the question can be determined by examining parental behaviour
from very early on. As parents nurture their children and act in
their presence, they provide powerful lessons that will set the
tone for what kind of adults their children will turn out to be.
key ingredients can go a long way to developing your child to be
of good character:
Helping them to take responsibility for their actions;
Helping them to participate in doing good deeds.
two-year-old Jacob spills his juice, the parent has several choices
in how to respond. Jacob can be scolded; ignored; helped to clean
up the mess or the parent can clean it up alone. Each response carries
its own message to Jacob. Scolding is upsetting in itself and teaches
Jacob to avoid getting caught. Ignoring suggests the spilled juice
doesnt matter and the behaviour can be repeated. The parent
cleaning up for Jacob suggests Jacob has no responsibility what-so-ever
for his actions and thus he can do as he pleases. Finally, the parent
engaging Jacob in the cleaning process without scolding suggests
there is a natural consequence to behaviour and he must assume some
responsibility for restoring or repairing the situation.
Jacob is four-years-of-age and he aggressively takes a toy from
another child, again the parent has choices in how to respond. However,
if the parent explains to Jacob how he hurt the other childs
feelings, has him apologize, return the toy and then negotiate sharing,
Jacob learns the impact of his behaviour on others, restitution
and then negotiation.
upon these experiences, when six-year-old Jacob breaks a window
playing ball, you have increased the likelihood that Jacob will
return to you on his own to report the accident and seek your help
to clean the mess and correct the situation. He will have learned
that you are caring, reasonable and responsible and he will be following
the behaviour you modeled and taught him. He will act less with
a concern of punishment and fear and more with a concern for caring
further their childrens good character, parents are advised
to encourage their children to join them in practicing good
deeds. A good deed is when someone does something for someone
else without being asked or without expecting anything in return.
We teach children about good deeds by their observing our good deeds.
We also teach about good deeds when we ask our children to help
out, with only providing our thanks in return. Our thanks can of
course include expressions of affection!
good deeds, children learn that the world doesnt just revolve
around them, but includes other who may benefit from our help. At
first the reward may come from our praise, but as the child ages,
they learn to derive satisfaction themselves from helping others.
Children can help clear the table, help the neighbour with the yard,
share a toy and join us when we do our volunteer work.
of good character doesnt need to happen by chance. Parental
behaviour that encourages children to take responsibility for their
actions, correct situations and practice good deeds can go a long
way to assuring kids grow up to be of good character.
Direnfeld M.S.W. is a social worker in Canada. Courts in Ontario,
Canada, consider him an expert on child development, parent-child
relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations,
social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on
a Section 112 (social work) report. His services include counselling,
mediation, assessment and assessment critiques. For information
on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane,