15 Essential Character Traits for Kids and How to Nurture Them
Teaching children how to become well-adjusted and successful individuals can be challenging. Sometimes, we tend to forget that character is more important to have than any kind of knowledge that can help us succeed in life. With that said, the different character traits for kids will be outlined to help children become better versions of themselves.
What Are Character Traits?
A character trait is based on the core values and beliefs that individuals have that are reflected in their personality [*]. Sources of character traits include innate capacities, personal experiences, and other people [*]. Character traits can be positive or negative, and they can influence a person’s behaviors, decisions, and way of life.
The Importance of Character Traits
Character traits are essential to have because they help us grow as individuals and as members of society. As we experience positive and negative life events, we learn from the life lessons derived from these experiences. As a result, we grow more holistically. Finally, character traits can serve as a guide to evaluating our emotions and situations better. Practicing character traits eventually functions as a stepping stone to children’s greatness and potential.
15 Essential Character Traits for Kids and How to Nurture Them
The following is a list of character traits for kids that you can nurture within them. With enough support and encouragement, they can adopt these traits, not just to be a better human being and not just to succeed in life, but also to be a better person for others.
Honesty is more than telling the truth to others. It is also about being truthful with yourself. Examples of being honest include the willingness to admit your mistakes and resisting the temptation to tell malicious lies and cheat one’s way out of situations. A concrete way to instill honesty in kids is to tell stories revolving around dishonest characters and to allow children to reflect upon whether these characters should be honest in those different circumstances.
According to Mother Teresa, “We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.” Examples of acts of kindness include writing a letter of appreciation to your loved one or paying it forward by giving your beloved toy to someone who would enjoy it as much as you do. Some ways to instill this trait in kids include challenging children to perform an act of kindness to someone.
Responsibility is the initiative to behave appropriately and fulfill one’s duties as a productive member of society. Some examples of being responsible can be as simple as making your bed in the morning or brushing your teeth without having to be told to do so. Strategies of teaching responsibility to children include setting deadlines for school projects and chores.
Perseverance is being determined to accomplish something despite obstacles and failures. One example of perseverance is studying one’s mistakes from a difficult exam to get a better grade in the next exam. This character trait can be cultivated in children by telling stories about people who are successful today despite having to endure major hurdles in life.
Another essential character trait for kids is respect, which refers to understanding other people’s value as human beings and exercising appreciation for them. Respect is exemplified in children when they do not insult their loved ones, authority figures, or even their acquaintances. Teaching respect to children may entail giving concrete examples of how to treat others the way they need to be treated.
Self-confidence enables children to be more self-assured in expressing their emotions, thoughts, and individuality. This can be demonstrated by feeling comfortable with speaking your mind or believing that you are competent and adequate as you are. You can teach children to be more confident by enrolling them in classes or workshops that can help hone their skills and interests.
Empathy involves understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. An example of being empathetic is sharing the sadness that your friend feels when going through a troubling time. One way to teach empathy to kids is to use literature and movies to provide different perspectives and foster various emotions.
Courage is being able to do something despite the fear to do so. Being courageous can range from trying new food that you’ve never tried in the past to being open to new experiences. You can model courage to kids by revealing the things that you fear doing but that you proceeded to do anyway.
Creativity is a character trait where you express original ideas and apply your imagination in real life. Simple examples of creativity include experimenting with the way you dress or producing a work of art. To instill creativity in kids, you can encourage them to experiment with using art materials that they do not normally resort to using when asked to draw, paint, or color.
Patience involves the endurance to do something that may be taxing or tedious without reacting poorly. An example of patience is waiting in line in the cafeteria or waiting for someone to finish speaking without interrupting. To nurture this character trait in kids, engage in activities together that necessitate patience.
To be compassionate means to sympathize with those who are suffering. For example, when you see a pregnant woman standing on the subway, being compassionate can be demonstrated by giving up your seat for her. One of the strategies of teaching compassion to kids is to encourage them to donate their toys to children who are less privileged.
Curiosity is about being inquisitive, having the desire to learn and gain knowledge. Some examples of curiosity are asking questions and reading books with the aim to expand one’s learning. One way to instill curiosity in children is to accompany them in visiting museums and exposing them to culture.
To be disciplined is to be able to persist in striving toward a goal. For example, when a child is studying a difficult subject, they refrain from getting distracted to accomplish their goal. One of the strategies you can implement to kids is to enforce some rules and explain the consequences of misbehavior, as well as the rationale behind such consequences.
As a character trait, optimism involves seeing the bright side of situations, and when negative events transpire, one sees the silver lining. One of the ways to express optimism is to recognize that losing a loved one means that they are no longer suffering from illness. To cultivate optimism, you can teach children to keep a gratitude journal, enabling them to see the beauty in life and the world despite hardships.
To have integrity means to act accordingly with one’s principles, beliefs, and values. For example, if you respect people’s privacy, then you would refrain from gossiping and sharing their secrets. One way to nurture integrity in kids is to provide them with scenarios where their integrity would be challenged, such as witnessing someone being bullied in school. Would they step in to defend their classmate, or would they act simply as a bystander?
Tips When Teaching Character Traits to Kids
After learning this list of character traits for kids, what are the best ways to foster them in your children? The following are some strategies that can help you get through to your kids when cultivating these character traits in them.
Lead by Example
One useful method is to be a good role model to children. Many children pick up behaviors through observational learning, so whenever you perform acts of random kindness, such as leaving a dollar bill in the tip jar of a coffee shop, they may begin to tip service staff as well. In contrast, if you exhibit behaviors such as smoking, then they may imitate you as well, opening the door to them developing maladaptive behaviors.
Create Opportunities for Kids to Practice
Enabling children to possess such character traits may involve reading books to them and asking them to reflect on questions such as, “Do you think the protagonist was practicing integrity when they displayed this behavior?” Alternatively, you can also enroll them in personality development classes so that they can actualize their own potential.
Praise and Reinforce Positive Behavior
It is also valuable to praise children specifically for their efforts to possess these essential character traits. For example, when they take care of a stray cat on the street, you can reinforce their empathy through verbal means or by rewarding them.
Discuss and Explain the Importance of Character Traits
The simplest and most straightforward way of teaching character traits to kids is through education. Explain to them why honesty and kindness are important. Explain to them how having integrity will help them become successful as adults. One way of educating them is by using tools such as these character education posters.
The Bottom Line
Although it may seem overwhelming to teach all these positive character traits for kids to them, keep in mind that this is essential for their moral, psychosocial, and emotional development. The most important act you can do for them is to give them the space to learn. Providing them with the opportunity to apply their learnings in real life will go a long way.
- Turito. 20 must have character traits for your kids to succeed. 24 January 2023.
- SplashLearn. 15 best & important character traits for kids that all parents must instill. 20 February 2023.