Good character is rarely something that develops on its own. Instead, good character in adults springs from good parenting and the experiences and opportunities during childhood and adolescence that shape young people into fine adults. For those teen boys who aren’t fortunate enough to have opportunities for character growth at home, there are plenty of opportunities at school, community activities, peer groups and more. Helping boys develop their character for the real world begins with parents and it’s never too early to start.
Here are 10 ways that parents can begin by helping boys develop their character for the real world and experience as much success along the way as they can:
- Set the example: Parents and extended relatives provide the example of character, whether good or bad, for boys to observe and eventually follow. when parents are demonstrating good character, children will notice and emulate.
- Show how to respect others: Teaching boys to respect others, no matter what their ideas, opinions or appearances are, will help build compassion, tolerance and appreciation for others. Learning and practicing respect is a trait that will serve them well throughout life.
- Practice social skills: From good manners to how to hold a conversation, social skills help showcase someone’s good character. Other social skills worth cultivating include courtesy, listening, time management, teamwork, and both how to be a good leader and how to follow one.
- Explore values: Exploring personal values is a critical part of getting teen boys to develop character. From social issues and the value of service to attitudes about substance abuse and gender roles, a teen boy with strong values will also develop a strong character.
- Teach about hard work: Giving teen boys responsibilities early and often will enable them to learn the value of a job well done and how others are dependent on their work. Contributing labor to a group, first at home and later to society as a whole, is an important part of moving from teen to adult.
- Empower them to say no: The ability to refuse another is a talent that few develop, but one that will help teen boys do everything from resist peer pressure to stand up for themselves when others seek to take advantage. The ability to stand firm is a key part of developing a strong character.
- Allow for failure: Everyone will fail at something in life and the sooner teen boys are faced with failure and overcome it, the better their coping skills will be for the next time. It’s not a matter of if a teen boy will fail, but when, so developing good character in the face of defeat is a must.
- Encourage them to serve others: Those with the greatest character have learned to put their talents and skills to work to serve others in the community. From actual acts of service to awareness, fundraising and support, teen boys who are aware of the struggles for others can make a difference in how they view their place in the world.
- Give opportunities to lead: Parents can help teen boys develop character by giving them the chance to lead, among peers, in family activities and in extracurricular activities. Learning to listen to others and use ideas wisely are just a few characteristics of a good leader.
- Stand back. Too many parents hover around their teen boys and interfere with every imagined challenge or stress. Parents who wish their teen boys to develop character must stand back and trust that their son will make the right decisions and pick himself up when he falls. support and love are important but only enough to ensure that the teen boy has a stable foundation to launch from.