Teaching kids to have good morals and values is tough, but it is perhaps one of the most important jobs that parents and teachers have. In order to instill good values from a young age, we recommend using character building activities that teach things like empathy, kindness, respect, and honesty.
Character building activities that focus on these traits and others create foundational life skills that will help kids develop a strong sense of character and serve them throughout their entire lives.
Character building activities also serve to strengthen a child’s emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
This skill is clearly one that will be more important as kids get older, but consider this: When emotional intelligence is enhanced and strengthened from a young age, kids will be better prepared to tackle the challenges and tough situations they face in adolescence and in their adult years. They’ll also grow up happier and more well-adjusted because they’ll be equipped with the right skills and tools they need to deal effectively with life from the start.
With these goals in mind, let’s take a look at some character building activities that help kids learn essential moral values like compassion and understanding.
Five Character Building Activities to Teach Kids Important Life Values
In order to raise responsible and emotionally strong children, it’s best to teach them early on about other people’s feelings and beliefs. Kids will meet a lot of different people throughout their lives—and they must learn how to interact with them with respect and kindness.
We’ve created five simple character building activities you can share with children to teach them compassion, understanding, and other important life values.
1. Treat Others with Kindness
One powerful way to teach compassion and understanding to your kids is to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in others when you are interacting with people. When you demonstrate kindness and interest in others and what they have to say, kids will see your behavior and follow your example.
Show kids how to treat others respectfully by making a point to model positive interactions with everyone you meet—including cashiers, neighbors, teachers, family members, and friends. Challenge everyone in your household to keep a running tally for a day, week, or month of each time they showed compassion, kindness, and understanding to others (and how they demonstrated it to the other person).
When you’re finished, share your experiences with one another and discuss what you learned.
2. Learn from the Past
As a culture, we tell stories and fables over and over again that can teach us something about morals and lessons that others have learned before us. We do so to remember where we came from—but also so that we may learn from the mistakes and struggles of others and pave a better path forward for ourselves.
You can make this character building activity especially personal by taking the time to share stories about your relatives and ancestors with your children. They’ll get to learn about past and present family members and their unique life stories—and they may feel inspired to model their behavior after the people who came before them who did such great things.
For extra fun, you can even do some family-themed arts and crafts together while you tell stories! Consider making a family tree, a photo album, or a small book with written stories and remembrances.
3. Seek Out Diversity
The world is a big and beautiful place, and people are living all sorts of different lives across it. However, your child may not understand much about what life is really like for people who live differently from him or her. Understanding that others have their own unique experiences—and their own values and ideals—is a big part of developing empathy and respect for others.
To expose your child to some other ways of life, take him or her to a library or museum with the goal to explore cultural materials and expand your worldviews.
As you learn about other cultures, help your child see that people from other parts of the world (and even other parts of the country) have their own traditions and ideas that are unique and fascinating. No one’s culture is more valuable or “right” than anyone else’s… they are all just different ways of life that have evolved over time.
Hint: If you’re looking for more character building activities like this one, you can search for “diversity activities” online and find more resources on the topic!
4. The Power of Words
Another simple yet highly effective character building activity you can share with your child is teaching him or her about character words.
Sometimes, kids recognize positive character traits and behaviors but they simply don’t have the language to label them. By teaching kids how to describe these behaviors with the proper terms, they’ll be able to recognize more readily when they exhibit good character on their own—and they’ll also start to see when others are treating them with these same values.
To make these lessons interactive, try making a collage or painting about a single character word with images that depict what the trait means or looks like in action. You can also try writing a story or poem that ties several character traits together—either the traits your child already possesses and does well, or perhaps the traits your child would like to improve upon.
Use the following word list to guide your character building activity:
5. Keep a Character Journal
Once your child has started to learn about different types of character traits and why they are so important, you may want to keep a character building journal to record your experiences together and to track the activities you shared. A journal is also a great way for your child to reflect on the new traits he or she learns about—as well as to examine instances where someone displayed (or should have displayed) these traits.
Character Building Journal Prompts
Use these prompts to get your character building journal started:
- What does it mean to have good character?
- Write about a time when you or someone you know showed integrity.
- Is it ever difficult to show kindness? How can you work to be kind even when it’s hard?
- What is empathy? How do you show empathy to others around you?
- Write about a time when you helped someone else even though you didn’t have to.
- Why is honesty an important value to have?
- What are some good ways that you can cooperate with others when a conflict arises?
- Write about someone in your life whom you consider to have good character. What makes you look up to that person?
- What does it mean to show someone respect?
- What type of character do you want to have when you grow up? List some of the specific traits that are most important to you.
As you and your child work on these simple character building activities together, you’ll both learn more about values, morals, and character—and you’ll also cultivate a closer relationship with one another in the process.
Here’s to taking action to build strong character in your child today!
More Kid Character Building Activities Resources for You
- Character Building Month of Activities
- Character Education Lesson Plans
- 25 Activities for Building Student Character
- Character Education Ideas & Activities
Until next time, write on…
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