10 Ways to Raise Kids with Character

As a parent, you always want to raise your kids to be the best possible version of themselves they can be. You probably want to raise a kid with manners, a kind heart, and a knack for making good decisions. Regardless of your individual parenting philosophy, the end goal is a kid with good character. Stephen Ferraro, Ed.D., shares his advice on how to make sure your child grows up to be an upstanding citizen.


With the 24-hour influx of news from constant notifications, alerts, and messages from social media and television, it’s easy for children to believe certain things. Kids are inundated and immersed in attention-getting news and edited photos that can twist their perspective of reality. With this in mind, parents must adapt to raise their children with character in this digital age. Here are ten tips for setting the best example for your children.

Be a role model.

One of the most important ways you can help instill good qualities in your child is to model appropriate, ethical behavior. This includes how you act on social media too. 

Encourage empathy and perspective taking.

Help your child understand what others face by having her imagine herself in someone else’s shoes. There are many viewpoints and ways to interpret something.

Take time to say thanks.

It’s always important to show thanks and encourage appreciation in children. Is your child saying “thank you” after someone helps him? Just think about the last time someone held the door open for you. Did you say thank you? Are you and your children writing thank-you cards, emails, or texts?

Help children understand consequences.

Are you helping your child understand the consequences of any poor decisions she may make? Don’t enable bad practices or blame others. There will always be rules and laws in life, and we must help her understand when she makes mistakes and why there are repercussions. Always provide a reason for a consequence to help her learn from her mistakes.

Support volunteerism.

Encourage your child to do community service and volunteer. It’s a very rewarding experience to help people in need and pay positivity forward.

Emphasize good sportsmanship.

It’s not always about winning; effort is more important. Point out high-fives, positive talk, cheering, and teamwork on the athletic court or field. Does your child shake hands with his opponents?

Showcase character-rich movies and TV shows.

What type of movies and TV shows are your kids watching? Are they violent? Are you having discussions about what you watch together? Ask what she thought was right or wrong in a scene. Look for positive movies, such as Wonder. Check CommonSenseMedia.org for recommended films, shows, and books by age group.

Share uplifting stories.

There are always positive stories in news you can share, ones that exemplify perseverance, responsibility, respect, and compassion. Ask your child how his day was, what his goals in life are, and how he is feeling. As your children get older, you’ll need to have more serious conversations about topics such as peer pressure, parties, and dating.

Monitor his language both online and offline.

Make sure your child is using appropriate language. Is he cursing? Are you cursing? What is he posting online? Is he stressed about how many “likes” and comments he is getting?

Encourage dedication and practice.

Help her realize that not everything comes easy. You have to practice in life to become better, whether it be with math, essay writing, or sports. And remember, recognition and rewards are earned. No one should feel entitled. Help her persevere and appreciate fairness.