Building Character; A Lesson From Six Children
When I saw a family member's request for an essay on building character, I thought of my six adult children.
I know they are people of good character but how did it happen? I'm quite sure they were not born with it. So I decided to ask my daughters and my sons, to give a response about what they thought helped developed their good character. What an eye opener this became for me.
One son said that negative energy was redirected toward positive things. I had to laugh because what came to mind was a picture of my children sitting on the couch or the floor watching PBS. After about a half an hour or so, someone would elbow the next sibling and a fight would break out. My solution: everyone had to run around the house outside until they were tired. They could then come back into the house. It worked every time! They went back to watching the show on PBS. No more fights.
Photo from Wikipedia from garycycles
One daughter said, as the oldest, she learned how to treat brothers and sisters from watching Mom and Dad. She said she learned to not leave anyone out and to be aware of other peoples' feelings. As the oldest of six, she had many responsibilities which made her aware of the needs of others and built character.
She learned the responsibility to help others, notice the suffering of others from observing her parents. In the 4th grade, she saw a girl being picked on, thought it was not fair and knowing there was power in numbers, brought together her friends to stop the injustice. That girl was never bullied again. She had learned that one person could make a difference.
She remembers learning independence and mentioned the time she bought milk at the 7-11 store. I remember that, too. I had a station wagon full of kids and needed to run into the store for a gallon of milk. My daughter teased and teased me to let her go in and get the milk. She was only 6 and a half years old. Finally I agreed and gave her the money. With great trepidation I watched her go into the store where adults were coming in and out. At last, I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw her walk out toward the car, holding a gallon of milk, her face lit up with a big smile. She did it!
Each child, as they came along, picked up a piece of candy when we were going through the checkout at the grocery store, unbeknownst to me until we hit the car. Each child had to go back, with Mom, to the cash register person and return candy with apology; a learning experience in honesty. It never happened a second time.
Several children recall asking me how to spell a word. I would tell them to go look it up in the dictionary. They learned how to use tools to answer their questions.
They remember having the freedom to explore outdoors in all kinds of weather; to experiment and explore who they were as persons; developing a sense of adventure and daring. One remembers feeling sorry for the kids across the street who couldn't come out because it was raining, or too cold, or too much snow.
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