What is Character?

What is character?

Teachers and parents talk about having good character, building character, and good character traits—but what does it all mean? Well, a person’s character is shown by how they act, think and feel in life. Character isn't one thing; it's the pattern that a person shows by how they interact with others and how they treat themselves.

A person with “good character” acts, thinks, and feels in a way that is in line with some commonly accepted “good” traits, like being honest, respectful, responsible, caring, fair.

These traits are part of having good values, or good morals. It means you act in a way that is in line with the character traits society agrees are good for everyone to get along well in life. There are morals or values that people generally accept as being right (honesty, respect, responsible, caring) or wrong (lying, deceiving, cheating, stealing, hurting other people on purpose, disrespecting). Someone with good character makes choices that are “right” and avoids doing things society considers “wrong”.

Examples of good character

How can you tell if someone has good character? Character is the pattern of thoughts, acts, and feelings someone shows over time. Making a mistake doesn’t mean you don’t have good character. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from them. Someone with good character believes they should make good choices and shows over time that they make choices that are honest, respectful, fair, caring, and responsible. They also show perseverance, which means they will make good choices and they’ll do the right thing, even when it’s hard.

Building good character

Good character is often something a person builds over time. When you hear about "building good character" or a "character building moment", it means that you are facing a challenge and you need to look to your good values, make a good choice, and persevere (work through it even though it's hard). A moment when you have a difficulty to overcome can be a character building moment because it helps you prove to yourself that you can make a good choice that is in line with your values. All the character building moments in your life help you grow into a person with good character.

Good character examples

  • You break your mom’s vase. Someone with good character will tell the truth (even if they’re going to get in trouble) and shows caring by apologizing and trying to make the situation better.
  • A new kid comes to school and dresses differently. A person with good character will not tease or be unkind. A person with good character will show caring and respect even when someone is different.
  • You have a test tomorrow. You know it’s important to study and do your best in school. You really would rather watch a new TV show you’ve been waiting for, but if you do that you won’t have time to study. A person with good character acts responsibly and finishes their work.

More Talking with Trees

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