Can you believe that it is November 1st already?! Crazy how time flies! As families continue to run at a rapid pace, we need to take the time to teach our kids about character and how to be good citizens. I try to remember to not only tell my kids about being respectful, doing the right thing and making good decisions, but I also try to set the example, too. And sometimes my own manic managed mom behavior falls short, I must admit!
So when managedmoms.com writer, Lisa Walton, asked me if she could write a good character piece, I agreed that this is an excellent idea. And when it comes to parenting in today’s manic world, I’ll take some good tips…especially from Lisa, who is not only a busy Mom, but also a teacher.
This is the introduction to a series of articles that will feature activities that you can do at home, and stories you can read with your own kids to enforce the Six Pillars of Character Education. This month in November we focus on the pillar of Citizenship, which ties in nicely with Election Day!
How to Teach our Children to have Good Character
Programs like “Character Counts” have been implemented in schools across our nation to instill the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, fairness, honesty, caring, and citizenship in their students. The goal is to strengthen children’s character through school-based programs on having children educated in a strong culture of respect, integrity, and self-control. But how can we families help support these same values and teachings at home?
Children Learn by Example
Parents and families that demonstrate good character are sharing their values with their children through the choices they make every day. If we display honesty and fairness, show respect, are trustworthy and show that we care about our families and communities; we are teaching them to be good characters and in turn to be good people. The moral messages we send must be clear and repetitive. Consistency is the key! Your children will judge your moral character by everything you do, say and allow them to do.
When our children struggle or break the rules of ethics that we establish; we as good parents need to reinforce this through natural consequences delivered with empathy and fairness. Even when we slip up (which as parents we all do), it’s important to model how we want our children to act when they make a mistake (we should be accountable for our actions, sincerely apologize, and promise to do better next time).
Real Life & Teachable Moments
Use examples in the real world or in the news. When you see other people in the community or on T.V., talk about the pillars of character and whether or not people demonstrate them. Use the common language of “The Six Pillars of Character” to have frequent discussions and ask children to point out when others are being fair, trustworthy, respectful, responsible, compassionate, or good citizens.
Listening to our children tell stories about school and their peers gives us the opportunity to help them think about their choices and guide them to make the right decisions. Developing good character should involve the child in real decision making that has real consequences (such as teaching responsibility through saving their allowance money or taking care of a pet).
In regards to discipline, take time to explain why a child’s behavior is wrong when you correct them. Choose a consequence that is appropriate to teach that value. Explain why you have a family rule and the underlying value that you hold helps the child learn from consequences and discipline.
Teach Character through Books
Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I especially love children’s literature. There are a multitude of children’s books that illustrate the values of character education. Whether they read picture books or chapter books, there are so many opportunities for your child to get lost in a book. While captivated by a story, they can also be engaged in importanat lessons that convey characther education. What a great way to spend time with your children and discuss these same values that are important to your family.
What are the 6 Pillars of Character?
Activities that Teach Citizenship:
*Do your share to make your school and community better
• Get involved in community affairs
• Stay informed; vote
• Be a good neighbor
• Obey laws and rules
• Respect authority
• Protect the environment
Children’s Book that Focus on Citizenship
Bartone, Elisa. American Too
Bender, Marie. Good Citizenship Counts
Bennett, William J. The Children’s Book of America
Blos, Joan W. Old Henry
Bunting, Eve. Smoky Night
Cheney, Lynne V. America: A Patriotic Primer
Forbes, Esther Johnny Tremain
Gibbons, Faye. Mountain Wedding
Hahn, Mary D. Stepping on the Cracks.
Hall, Kirsten. Vote for Me: All About Civics
Herold, Maggie Rugg. A Very Important Day
Lasker, Joe. Nick Joins In
Leaney, Cindy. Everyone Makes a Difference: A Story About Community
Lionni, Leo. Swimmy
Loewen, Nancy. We Live Here Too! Kids Talk about Good Citizenship
Roddie, Shen. Too Close Friends
Ryder, Joanne. Each Living Thing
Say, Allen. Grandfather’s Journey
Sewall, Marcia. The Pilgrims of Plymouth
Yolen, Jane. Raising Yoder’s Barn
Declaration of National Character Counts Week by President Barack Obama
“In times of adversity and triumph alike, the American people have been guided by the strength of our
character. With resilience and compassion, we have provided for our neighbors, lifted
their spirits, and embraced our shared humanity. During National
Character Counts Week, we celebrate our country’s core values and commit to
passing them on to the next generation. America’s role
models from parents and teachers to community leaders and coaches play an integral
role in shaping character. They foster patriotism, promote civic pride,
and teach young people to live by the Golden Rule by treating others the way
they want to be treated. Together, all Americans must cultivate moral
fortitude, preach tolerance, and demonstrate the value of respect for those
different from ourselves. Our Nation’s
character is engrained in our past, central to our present, and key to our
future. All of us share a responsibility to preserve and uphold the
values that have kept our country strong, prosperous, and free. This
week, we resolve to stay true to the American spirit and live according to our highest ideals.”
Lisa Walton–Parenting tips
Valley Teacher and Mother
Lisa Walton has been a teacher in the Valley for over 18 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Deaf Education from Illinois State University; and Master’s Degree in Special Education from Arizona State University. She currently works as an itinerant teacher, collaborating with regular education teachers in the public schools.