Goals of Character Development Courses for Children

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr
Character development courses will not turn your child into an angel, but they can make a positive difference.

Character development courses will not turn your child into an angel, but they can make a positive difference.

One way to increase the chances of raising children with positive character traits such as honesty, respect, courage, integrity and kindness is to use a character development course that you can implement over a length of time. When your teen leaves home to live on her own, she might have a better chance of having the strong moral foundation that's necessary to living a healthy, productive life.

What is Character?

Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden wrote, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” In “Hamlet," William Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Character is what you are on the deepest level and what ultimately governs your actions. Character development courses seek to shape an individual so that the foundation of that individual is positive. Positive character drives the individual to act in ways that are compassionate, honest, courageous, responsible and self-disciplined, according to the introduction in former U.S. drug czar William Bennett’s book, “The Book of Virtues.”

Identifying Traits

A character development course lists the traits the author feels are vital to healthy and responsible living. That list can vary from one course to another. Some courses could base most or all of their chosen traits on the Bible or some other sacred text. Others could base their list on secular works or those traits the author feels most benefit the student. If a child is deficient in one or more of the listed traits, the parent can spend more time developing those traits and less time on the traits the child has mastered.

Teach by Example

Kids' character development courses often use stories to help a child understand and nurture desirable traits. When you use a character development course for your child, use it to reinforce your own moral compass. Children simply will not do what you tell them to do if you insist on doing the exact opposite, according to Tim Markley, superintendent of schools in Wilmington, North Carolina. The stories and activities only provide the walls and roof of your character house -- your living example provides the foundation your children build upon. That could make you self-conscious or it could inspire you to provide the best example your child could have.

The Right Choice

Character development courses help your child discover what right actions are expected and the consequences for both good and bad choices. For example, Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” presents the negative consequences of miserly behavior and positive consequences of compassion. Your child can listen to the stories and determine which actions are appropriate for living, such as telling the truth, showing compassion and following through with your promises.


About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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