What is character development?
What is your strength? Your answer is what will help you understand this topic.
If you answered that your positive mind is your strength that means you possess ‘optimism’. If you say that you refuse to give up that means you have ‘grit’.
How you define yourself shows the characteristics you possess.
Understanding character traits
If you feel the pain of others and act to ease the pain, you have empathy. If you keep secrets of others, you are trustworthy. These are all character traits that we possess. While some cry while watching Bambi, others don’t. While some feel like crying but can resist their tears, others can’t. This is because the character traits we possess are different from one another.
There are more than fifty character traits that we can grow in order to lead a meaningful life. We also need to help our children build these traits to make the world a better place. With the right set of traits, your child will grow into a responsible adult who knows how to care for nature and all around them.
Here are some of the most valuable traits that we want our children to have:
Your child may ask a lot of questions. That is because they are curious. Curiosity is one of the most common traits in kids. It is their urge to know the world- the people around them, the things around them. When you nurture your child’s curiosity, you help them to know. Encourage your child to know, to discover and to explore by growing their curiosity. In the initial days, let them ask questions. Answer each of them- even the silly ones just to make them feel comfortable asking questions. A curious mindset is what leads to a growth mindset.
It’s not everyday that you talk about this trait to your child. You, just like other parents, may wait till your child does something that they shouldn’t to explain integrity. However, you can teach your child and imbibe this trait in them from a very young age. Even before they can judge whether an act is right or wrong, give them situations. Ask your child what they would do in different situations like finding a toy on the road. These conversations will prepare them for real life situations. Make your child realise that no one will punish them for being honest.
Do you ever wonder why some kids are happy with one toy while others cry their eyes out when they don’t have a lot? The answer is this specific trait. Being resourceful means finding solutions to problems. It requires you to be creative. As a parent, you may try to offer the best of best to your child- education, food, clothes, toys. Well, all parents do that. But you also need to instill resourcefulness in your child. Give them situations for this. Ask them to make new toys from old ones. Give them building blocks instead of phones. Let them use one type of toy in many different ways. This is the first step towards your child being resourceful.
Think of your childhood. There weren’t these many screens or even these many smart toys. A few decades back, kids had the chance to play with the same toy in different ways. Much like being resourceful, you can inculcate creativity in your child from a very young age. Kids are creative by nature. They can find shapes in clouds and towers in sands. As a parent, support your child’s inborn creative spirit. Let them draw the way they want to. Don’t tell them to keep the colour within the lines. Let them scribble. It is in these scribbles on the walls that a child shows his or her signs of creativity. Let that grow freely.
To grow this trait in your child, you need to be the role model. When your child feels scared of a little bug, don’t laugh off their fear. Feel it with them. Talk to them about all the different emotions they feel. Tell them that others feel it too. Empathy goes beyond just feeling others emotions. It also means to care about it and work to make things better. Here’s a video that you can watch with your child to understand empathy.
- Confidence and Humility
The reason to put these two traits together is that a balance of both is what kids need. Too much of either without the other breaks the harmony. Just like the winning combination of peanut butter and jam or Tom and Jerry- confidence and humility are traits that are best when they coexist. Let your child be confident- they need that to thrive in today’s world. But at the same time, teach them to be humble. Make sure they thank you for every meal you cook them or every time you arrange their toys.
How can I build my child’s character?
No matter how hard you try to instill all good character traits in your child, you can’t do that in just a few years. Kids are born with certain traits but the good news is that character isn’t fixed. You can build your child’s character in different ways. This process is called character building. In this process, other than building your child’s character, you grow a deep bond with your child.
Your 5-year old might have patience but when you lead by example, they will develop this trait naturally. Never tell them that you don’t have time when they want to tell you something. Instead, tell them that you want to hear all about it but right now you can’t. Tell them that you’ll hear them at night and keep your words. To grow a certain trait in your child, show that in yourself.
When you want to develop the right set of traits in your child, you need to understand all about character building. Once your whys and hows connect, your child gets the best guidance to develop positive character traits in your child.
At what age do character traits start to develop?
Every child is born with his or her own set of character traits. Some newborns like the sound of tinkling toys while some don’t. Some toddlers love teddy bears while others push them away. More than character traits, these small preferences show their nature. You can see some of their innate character traits when they are 3-5 years old. These are initial character traits that your child brings with them. However, they aren’t fixed and can be changed from time to time.
Character development in early childhood
Some children love staring at the ceiling when they are in their cribs. Others try to look at everything around them. Every noise makes them feel aware. They are conscious even when they are little bundles of cuteness.
As years pass, your child starts showing signs of their own traits. As a parent, you might feel proud to see them sharing their toys with their siblings or friends. This is their kindness- a trait that everyone needs to have. Some are born with it while for others you need a little extra work. So, if your child isn’t naturally giving should you be worried? Of course not! As we already discussed, character isn’t fixed and you can nurture all the good traits in your child as they start growing up.
First few steps in the real world
Before going to school: You can nurture positive traits in your child at any given stage of their childhood. The process starts when your child becomes aware of the goodness around them. This becomes an active part of their life when they feel good by being good. The joy of sharing, the power of laughter- help them visualise the goodness and imbibe it within themselves. Do you know that you can even grow traits that you don’t possess while nurturing them in your child! There is no age limit that restricts character building.
Character building in primary days: Once your child starts going to preschool they meet new people. During this phase, you can make your child learn a lot about character traits. Your child will come back from school everyday with a new story. Listen to what they say and teach them lessons from their everyday stories. When you show your child examples from real life it helps them learn better. When they do something good, tell them what quality in them made them do it. When your child shares a piece of chocolate with a friend, tell them that it is kindness. Tell them that this is how friendships begin. When you explain character traits to your child by picking up their own experiences they will understand better.
Identifying more traits during middle school: Classrooms are where your child will experience a wide range of emotions. This is where they develop character traits too. Character and emotions are entwined during this phase. You need to pay attention to how they feel about a situation to help them grow better traits. For instance, if a teacher scolds your child for talking in class, do they come back and complain to you or do they just narrate the incident? In case they complain, focus on teaching your child to understand that they were wrong and the teacher was right. This helps your child grow fairness as a trait. Again, at this age humility is the need of the hour. If you buy your child something that they can show off, teach them not to and tell them why. Tell your child that being proud of something you got them is not right. What they should be proud of is how good, kind and humble they are. You can even reward your child for being humble to help them feel how important humility is.
Building traits in high school teens: During the sensitive teen years, you need to take on the role of a friend and a mentor alongside being a parent. Now that your child has already built some definite traits it’s time to show them how these traits go a long way in making their lives meaningful. Show them examples of people who have resilience, confidence, kindness, patience and all the other qualities that helped them grow. Develop a connection with your child by engaging in activities that you both find interesting. Here’s a list of activities <hyperlink to activities blog> that are fun for children of all ages.
Though character building is a natural process, as parents, teachers and caregivers, we can help our children develop positive traits. There are various ways to build a child’s character and Angel Bear Yoga helps you nurture the best traits in your child while growing the bond stronger. This is a unique kids yoga training program that lets you use yoga as a tool to raise an honest, resilient, kind, and emotionally intelligent child.