Character Development in Young Children

Happy SummerWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

The other night, I was watching a recorded interview with a parenting expert. The reporter asked the expert some tough questions regarding her opinion on raising children with character in a morally corrupt society. The expert repeatedly gave vague answers, and the reporter became frustrated and finally abruptly asked, “Whatever happened to, ‘This is wrong, this is right, this is good, and this is bad?’ Why can’t we just tell children to mind their manners and to say, ‘Please,’ and ‘Thank you’?” The reporter was pointing out that the expert’s very vague answers to very simple questions were confusing parents even more.

Here is my point: Values are caught more than they are taught. Your children will watch you and then do what you do. If you want them to be honest, tell them the truth and seize teachable moments to show them the value of honesty. If you want them to be compassionate, show compassion to others and introduce that lifestyle to them very early. If you want them to be disciplined about what they eat, what they watch, and what they say, then you must be attentive to what you eat and watch and say. Offer only healthy foods. Turn off the TV or other media when it doesn’t reflect your family values. Refrain from saying words that your children should not hear.

We often drag our children to experts and ask for help when it’s really the parents who need the discipline. I agree that the condition of society doesn’t help us, but we control our child’s world in so many ways. Let’s be honest. We’re the ones who really want to see that show, eat that junk, or have one more drink. Children typically grow up to mimic what they have observed. This isn’t always the case; but, again … family values are more often caught than taught.

Parenting isn’t for the weak, but it isn’t reserved for those who have achieved perfection either. It is a journey where the relationship matters more than anything. Just remember that little eyes are always watching and little ears are always listening. That’s motivation to be the best that you can be! Be clear and consistent about whatever you determine to be important. Consistency is critical and living it out authentically with your child in a warm and loving environment brings the richness and beauty that makes life magical.


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