In today’s social media-focused world, many parents are constantly worrying about whether their children will grow into kind and selfless people. According to our recent national survey, 92 percent of parents agree that nurturing positive character traits in children is more important than it used to be, yet nearly 50 percent of parents were unsure of how early they should start teaching these traits to their child. What we’ve found? The earlier the better!
Because babies as young as 6 months old can demonstrate outward signs of budding empathy skills, weaving character development lessons into daily experiences with children of all ages is key.
How to Bring Character Traits to Life
At a young age, it’s easier for children to relate to characters’ feelings and experiences rather than to reflect on their own. So, we’ve found that teaching children about positive characteristics using Primrose Friend puppets is a great way to help them observe and understand these traits on a daily basis. Here are some examples of how puppets can be used to teach children about different traits and ways parents can continue the learning at home:
Ally the bunny encourages students to take responsibility for their words, actions and the world around them. At Primrose, each class has a Classroom Helper Chart and each child is given a responsibility – line leader, lunch helper, librarian, etc. – to help keep the classroom a fun and neat place to learn.
Try it at home: Help your child choose one or two simple household chores to be in charge of each day. Folding napkins before dinner, gathering dirty laundry and helping to feed a pet are all easy ways for your child to practice responsibility! Find more ways to involve your child in household chores in this blog post.
Benjamin the Bear helps students learn concepts of generosity and giving without expectation throughout the year. He encourages our students during hands-on giving projects, like our annual Caring and Giving Food Drive. Each November in our schools, children engage in activities such as earning money by doing household chores, building shopping lists, taking field trips to purchase items at the store, and delivering cans to local food banks or charities. Students learn the meaning of giving without expecting and participate in the process beginning to end.
Try it at home: There are many ways to help your child practice generosity around your home. If a sibling or another child doesn’t have a toy to play with, suggest that your child share one of their toys so they can both have fun. When asking your child to help with a task, remind her how helping benefits others. For example, “The dog looks hungry. I bet he’d really appreciate it if you gave him his food and water!”
Primrose Friend Katie the Cat helps children learn about cooperation by helping teachers read books on teamwork and giving real life examples of this skill. In the Primrose Patch garden, children work together to tend the garden and practice essential skills for teamwork, such as patience, planning and responsibility.
Try it at home: Schedule household chores at times when all family members can work together to finish them. Praise your child for her attempts to help, and talk about how it’s fun to work together to accomplish a goal. When you read a story with your child (like Clifford’s Spring Clean-Up), point out times when the characters cooperate with each other. Discuss how the characters feel and how much easier it is to accomplish the task when they work together. Click here for more ideas of how to encourage cooperation at home!
Molly the Cow teaches students about respecting others, no matter what their differences are. Children learn through books and classroom discussions that although they may look different on the outside, everyone has the same feelings and emotions on the inside, and it is important to always be kind to others.
Try it at home: Read “We Are All Alike… We Are All Different” with your child and have discussions about how being different from each other is what makes people special and interesting. Remind your child that while people may look different, we are all alike on the inside. Here are more tips on discussing respect and diversity with your little one.
Intentionally nurturing these skills at an early age is especially important because they have been shown to be key predictors of future health, academic and life success. When children practice compassion, respect and gratitude – especially in their earliest years – they are more likely to become confident, happy adults.
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