Extension Review by Virginia Delvaux Last week I shared with you the first two pillars of trustworthiness and respect from the Character Counts program. Parents and childcare providers provide a big impact on the lives and development of children in their formative years. Children imitate and learn from adults, so it is very important that youth learn responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship at an early age. These four remaining pillars along with trustworthiness and respect are what the Character Counts program bases their program on.
So how might one implement responsibility with infants and toddlers? Caregivers and parents can give young children the opportunity to feed themselves once they are on table foods. The older a child becomes the more things they will like to try to do for themselves.
Toddlers can be encouraged to pick up toys, find their own shoes, or to select between books when it is story time. Simple activities such as these can make them feel capable and confident in their abilities.
As a child grows older any job that they can succeed at helps them feel important and know they are contributing to the family or group setting. Encourage simple chores at mealtime, or cleaning up after an activity. Also share with the child the cause and effect of their actions and how their actions affect others around them.
The "fairness" pillar is probably the hardest concept for young children to understand. With infants, adults will want to listen and interact with them in ways that match the child's action. Infants that are listened to will be more likely to listen to others when they are older.
It is very important for adults to listen to toddlers when they want your attention. Some times this will require one to physically get down on their eye level. Set boundaries and enforce them so children learn to follow rules from a young age.
As the child grows the rules may need to be adjusted or new guidelines established. Whenever an adult sees a child acting or treating another child unfairly, it is important to speak up and address the behavior. In older children it may help to let the children help determine the rules and consequences.
Next week I will share the last two pillars Caring and Citizenship.