Every parent wants their child to develop traits such as compassion, generosity and kindness, but just like math and reading skills, the traits associated with good character must be nurtured and developed over time. The earlier these softer skills are fostered in young children, the more likely they are to be successful in school and later in life.
Research shows that from birth to age 5, the brain develops more rapidly than at any other time in life. Nurturing the development of compassion, independence and resilience during these years is just as crucial as setting the stage for other proficiencies. As the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child states, “The early years lay the foundation for a wide range of later developmental outcomes that really matter – self-confidence and sound mental health, motivation to learn and achievement in school and later in life.”
When teaching your little one something as intangible as character, it’s important to provide hands-on learning opportunities and reinforce those lessons in a variety of ways. Here are some tips:
- Build an understanding of different traits. Even at a young age, children begin to build their understanding of important character traits, such as generosity, respect and gratitude. When reading with your child, take the opportunity to discuss positive traits that the characters possess and apply it to real- life experiences.
- Introduce important life skills. Children are never too young to begin learning essential life skills, such as manners, safety and caring for the environment. Have your child take care of his very own plant. This fun task will promote responsibility while also teaching the importance of caring for the world around him.
- Make time for hands-on learning. Children get most excited about giving back when they are able to experience it first-hand. Introduce your child to helping those in need by starting small in your community.
Whether it’s collecting coats for a clothing drive or making cards for the local nursing home, it’s heartwarming to see your child begin to understand the huge impact a simple project can have.
Remember, young children learn through repetition and observation. One of the best ways for you to teach your children about character is to lead by example and demonstrate those important soft skills, which they will learn to imitate over time.
Primrose Schools is a national family of accredited, early education and care schools serving children, parents and local communities with a purposeful, balanced approach to nurturing Active Minds, Healthy Bodies and Happy Hearts®. To learn more about Primrose Schools in Flower Mound, Lewisville and Highland Village and its exclusive curriculum, visit www.primroseschools.com. For more parenting tips, visit our 360 Parenting blog at primroseschools.com/360parenting..