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Build Character Now! Practical Tools for Busy Parents

'To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.'
-Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President

Teddy Roosevelt hit the mark with his words. To educate a child in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and not about living is to raise a menace to society.

How do we as parents, teachers, and mentors help children build character? Below you will notice the five character-building goals to instill in your children. Using questions as practical tools is an easy and excellent way to promote these goals and build character too.

Imagine that a boy named Harold recently moved into your neighborhood. He constantly causes trouble. The school principal just sent him home with a note addressed to his parents about his acting out in class. You and your child discuss Harold's problems. You center your discussion on the five key goals listed below. To instill each goal, ask your child the following practical questions:

-Goal 1: Empathy-Being aware of and caring about others' feelings.
Question: If you were Harold, how would you feel?

-Goal 2: Role Taking-Putting oneself into another's shoes and
understanding where they are coming from.
Question: What do you think Harold wanted by acting out in class?

-Goal 3: Social Awareness-Being aware of other's opinions, their needs, their likes, and dislikes.
Question: If you were a classmate of Harold's, what might
you think of Harold?

-Goal 4: Self-Reflection-Examining our own thoughts, feelings,
and, behaviors.
Question: Have you ever misbehaved in class? How did you feel about yourself?

-Goal 5: Internalizing Good Advice-Taking to heart the advice
your child gives to others and following it when he or she needs it.
Question: If you were giving good advice to Harold, what would you tell him?

Congratulations! By asking the above questions, you have just strengthened your child's character because you have awakened your child's thoughtful mind and caring heart.

We - ve examined what goals to instill and what questions to ask. Let's find out where to build character by asking the above questions in the following situations:

-Problems with characters on TV
-Problems on the school bus
-Problems in the classroom
-Problems in the neighborhood
-Problems at home
-Problems in discussion stories

Now, it's time to take action. If you're like most busy parents just remember the questions and ask them often. Get your children to think and to feel wisely. By using these tools now, you will be building a strong healthy character in your child, and a better society for us all.

About the Author

Jean Tracy, MSS, former teacher and family counselor, now author and speaker, is an award winning Distinguished Toastmaster. Jean helps parents and teachers raise awesome kids with awesome characters. You will find her book, Character Building on BackTalk Street, her parenting products, FREE bonding activities, parenting tips, and parenting articles at,


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