Imagine for a moment if we left the teaching of character and kindness up to our presidential candidates, reality TV shows, and video games. Would the example those outlets demonstrate on a regular basis provide your child with the kind of tools you would want them to possess? Would they be armed with compassion, view challenges with a positive attitude and take on the world with bravery and kindness? Probably not.
In this, the second part to my post, “‘Soft’ Skills Now Essential Skills”, I would like to share with you what I consider to be the 10 Essential Skills that we should be teaching our children. Without a doubt, kids versed in these crucial skills will be far more prepared to succeed in their careers, in relationships, and in their own personal happiness. The key though, is you!
There is a long list of character traits and skills we as humans hold to be important. At Kidventure, we have narrowed that list over the course of 20 plus years to include what we consider to be the Essential Skills every child should possess. As a parent, educator or camp counselor, intentionally fostering these skills on a daily basis will held develop the habits of great character and the opportunity for your child to be the best he or she can be in life.
The 10 Essential (Character) Skills
At camp we only have three rules. They are (1) respect yourself, (2) respect others, and (3) respect your surroundings. Pretty much every positive or negative action will fall under one of these three. Teaching children the value of respect, even in the midst of disrespect from others is a trait that will open their eyes, hearts and minds to the world.
Many of us can make the right choices when everyone is looking. Integrity about is doing so when no one is around. Teaching our kids that doing the right thing in deeds and words should be something that comes from within. It is purely modest and demands no publicity nor acknowledgement. When a particular situation arises, ask your child what he or she would do. Guide them through the reasoning of what is right and wrong and encourage them to have integrity.
In a world where everyone pushes their own personal brand, there is something so refreshing about humility. One of the most profound attributes of a great leader is that of placing others first. Humility requires this of us. Sign up for a volunteering opportunity with your kid. It’s one of the best ways to teach humility.
Courage comes in many forms. There is the courage to slide down the tallest slide and there is the courage to stand up to wrong-doing. Courage is an action, based on the acknowledgment of risk. Many recognize that risk, few will embark on the undertaking of courage. Give your kids small opportunities to take risk and be brave. Reward them for their courage and allow that spark to become a flame. It will grow as they do.
Grit almost seems to be a lost art form and a long-forgotten idea of yesteryear. Yet, happiness that thrives in uncomfortable situations is a richer happiness. Teach your child to be a little tougher, endure a little more challenge and provide them with opportunities to effort a little more. The results will be a person that is less likely to crumble when things go south. Likewise, a person whose opportunity to be happy is much broader and less impacted by the thorns of life.
Being kind to others has an infectious effect. It’s like a domino that falls upon another and so on. At camp, random acts of kindness are held in high esteem and rewarded duly. Simple acts of kindness like opening a door for someone, helping out a stranger, and complimenting someone, breeds happiness and in turn, fosters more kindness. It’s the kind of cycle that should be fostered.
To view the world through the lenses of curiosity and wonder, allows one to understand the greater complexity and fuller spectrum of life. Too often we categorize and compartmentalize life into narrow boxes. The natural curiosity and wonderment of a child should be preserved and utilized throughout life. Gaze at the night sky with your child and wonder at the infinity of it all. Be amazed at the diversity of life and encourage your kids to notice the little things and place great value on all around them.
Having a positive outlook on life is a habit. That habit is fostered when children grow up around positive people. Why is it some people will often be heard complaining while others seem to relish in similar moments? Be positive, especially when the rain falls. The results will be a kid that can face the world’s challenges with greater energy, optimism and promise.
Compassion is taught. It is communicated through your example when you volunteer and give of yourself to others. Compassion is communicated when you speak of those in need and those less fortunate. Compassion reaches deep in our soul and draws out out the best in who we are as human beings. Be compassionate and your child will be too.
- Self Confidence
If you want to instill self confidence in your child then provide opportunities for them to gain it ‘themselves’. Too many parents do too much for their kids, not allowing them to partake in trial and error. Let you kids fail. Then allow them to succeed. Any self confidence built on the artificial foundation of ‘your’ engineering will only result in a weak structure. Recognize the ‘Self’ part and your child will grow to be healthier and happier because of it.
So there you have it. But if it were as easy as a few words, it would be simple. It’s not. Building character requires time, effort and first looking in to your own soul. The greatest teacher a kid ever got was you. The good news is, we don’t have to be perfect to be good. We just need to be intentional about what we do and the example of what we want in our kids. When you fail, apologize to your child. That will only reinforce good character.
If you want to create a child who is happy and will grow to make a difference in the world, then give him or her the tools to be so. Those tools are character and they are the most important and profound skills you can teach your child. Ever.
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