Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Building character in little characters

I write a regular bi-weekly parenting column for a local sports newspaper, Hockey Stop, published and edited by Sean Hazelton, which can be found in local rinks. I suppose I never mention this as a publishing credit, because it is on going. But today's column in particular resonates with me and I hope it will with you too.

As parents, we prepare our preschoolers for early education. We fill their little brains with facts, letters, numbers, shapes and concepts. As educators, we build on what your child knows, and believe me, they know more these days than they ever have. As my thirty-fourth year draws to a close, I can attest to the fact that little Susie's ears are likely pierced, and I've had little boys with piercings too. They prance around in the latest scaled-down teenaged fashions. Where did those little ruffled bloomers go? Where did civility go? We live in a world of negativity and rudeness instead of grace and kindness. I believe that parents should be developing positive character traits in their little characters. My parents do a good job of this but in the larger community I witness some shocking things.

Young children are schooled on the latest television shows and movies, some with more adult content and frightening images than even I care to view. Little kids are highly verbal and act too big for their britches. Their parents want to please them and often give in; they forget that PG means parental guidance. Students are subjected to too much too soon.

My philosophy is let them be little while they are young. Parents think they are raising their child for a competitive world. Actually, they are rearing a small person who will become an adult whose feelings, actions and interactions will effect future generations. What a kid learns from Mom or Dad will carry over for years. What a kid learns in the classroom won't always stick.

If you fill your child's social-emotional tool chest with the things he or she needs, when a future problem arises, he will be able to retrieve the necessary tool to deal with a difficult situation.

The things parents teach or FAIL to teach impacts the future. Over the summer, why not engage in character education? Print a character word, such as HELPFUL or KIND in large letters on computer paper. Have your child trace the word five times with five differnt colored markers and talk about the five things he or she did that targets the word. "Red is for the time you fed the dog. Blue is when you shared your toy."

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all wrote down a character word and traced it in a different color everytime we caught ourselves (or our kids) doing the right thing? Just a thought. I love rainbows, why not make our own?

14 comments:

Cathy C. Hall said...

I don't think you're ever too old for character words, Linda! Love that idea-

Chatty Crone said...

Absolutely - great post - and start them young! Wish Andy had you as his teacher years ago.

jabblog said...

Character words sound like a really good idea.

Claudia Moser said...

Food for thought indeed

Susan said...

Hi Linda. Oh, yu are so right. The world is a different place than it was a few decades ago and it's not always improved. Take care and congratulations on a lifetime's worth of teaching little ones. Teachers should make the highest salaries of all professions, including medical! After all, without teachers, there wouldn't even BE doctors.Susan

Bookie said...

Excellent writing...wish I had your insight ability!

June Freaking Cleaver said...

I am shocked at the movies my grandkids watch...a lot of them R-rated (even the five year old has been watching them for a couple of years); violence, horror, and that stupid Jackass stuff.

The Boy has watched just a couple R-rated movies, and he's almost 16 (and I'm watching with him, so I decide when enough's enough).

When my oldest daughter was an infant, we got a cardboard "Children Learn What They Live" with the stuff the hospital gives new moms - that hung on our refrigerator for the longest time, and I tried to remember the lessons there.

I think all of our children would be well served if they learned (and lived) these lessons:

http://www.empowermentresources.com/info2/childrenlearn-long_version.html

Thisisme. said...

Wonderful post today, and I agree with every word. I love the idea of those character words and engaging the young children with the word. I will certainly do that with my grandchildren when they are a bit older.

Val Thevictorian said...

The elementary and middle schools have a "word of the month" for character traits. Your suggestion is great. PARENTS should be responsible for the character education of their children.

When I taught sixth graders, I could not believe the number of them asking if my kids had seen some popular R-rated movies. They explained that their mom buys the tickets for them, and sends them with an older brother or sister. I guess 11 is the new 17.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thank you all for your comments. It breaks my heart to see the way we are rushing our children, and often it's because parents can't say, "No."

Jennifer Brown Banks said...

Linda,

I've got one word for today's post: Amen!
What great insight and great writing!

Jennifer over @ Pen and Prosper Blog

Linda C. Apple said...

Amen Sister! ;)

Janet, said...

That's a great idea. In fact, I think it is a good idea for grown ups, too. We all need a little character building sometimes.

Tammy said...

Oh, how true!!! Character ed is great in the secondary schools, but it shouldn't HAVE to be taught in school--let alone that late in life.