Sherman Lake YMCA

“Children have not always been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” (James Baldwin)

All parents want the best for their children.  They would like them to be honest, caring, respectful, and responsible (HCRR), but might wonder how to go about helping them develop these principles.  First and foremost, you should recognize that you are always role-modeling to your children what these look like.

When you keep your word to your children, you teach them honesty. When you hold the door open for someone, you are teaching them how to care.  By saying you are sorry when you have hurt someone’s feelings you are helping them to respect other people’s feelings.  When you clean up after yourself you model responsibility.  Keep in mind that children learn from you, whether your actions are positive or negative.  A great example of this is seen on a youtube.com video titled “Children see, children do.” This powerful message reminds us that we should always be cognizant of our actions, as these are the actions that we will see in our children.

Add these additional techniques to your parental role-modeling in order to help your children develop the four principle character strengths:

  1. Be very genuine and interested in your children. Listening to your children is very important in developing a strong sense of self. Ask them open ended questions so that they will elaborate, and provide them 100% of your attention with a caring and respectful approach.
  2. Children need to find appropriate ways to feel empowered.  Help them do this by asking them to be responsible with helping you plan or cook dinner, or clean the dishes. Even young children can help with developmentally appropriate skills like putting ice cubes in cups or washing fruit.
  3. Allow natural consequences to occur.  If your child forgets their instrument for band, or shoes for soccer, they will learn more responsibility and problem solving skills if you allow them to accept the consequences of these actions.
  4. Always be consistent in what you do.  If you have said no to staying up past bedtime, that should mean no staying up past bedtime. Children will naturally try to challenge your decision, however if you are consistent and follow through, they will stop trying to persuade you differently. Your child will respect you more if you stick with your plans and agreements.
  5. Be honest, but not hurtful in your words and actions.  Your children will respect you for providing honest and respectful feedback, as it shows that you truly care for them. If your daughter tried on a dress that you felt was inappropriate, let her know how you feel and help her to find something you both like.
  6. Finally, love your children unconditionally.  If they make a mistake make sure that they know that it is the behavior that you disapprove of, not them. Their self-esteem and decision making skills will benefit from the way you care for them as you handle their mistakes.


If you have questions do you know where to find reputable answers? I have provided a few of my favorite websites that I have looked for information and assistance from in the past.  Many of these sites also contain a recreational component as well so that your family can find fun things to do together.


This is a site that is typically used for teachers and schools to support character education with lesson plans and curriculum.  There is a parent resource page that contains activities for families, parenting ideas and resources.


Provides parenting tips, articles, web links, and more to enrich your experience as a parent.


Provides expert advice for parents of preschoolers through high school.  Subjects include school and academics, child and adolescent development, nutrition and health, groups and blogs.


This is the world’s leading website on learning disabilities and ADHD. It features the basic topics, and Q & A’s, alongside advice from professionals.  The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) recently announced a new iphone app in order to help parents participate in IEP meetings.


This is the leading homeschooling community and support website.  Provides curriculum, newsletters, forums, podcasts, resource guides and support groups.


This site provides government information by a large variety of topics including current topics that affect families such as Internet safety, and grandparents raising grandchildren. Also helps with web chats, A-Z Agency list, and local, state and federal government information.



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