Good Traits List

Which good traits do we need to teach children

Good character traits are ways of acting that help people get along well.

The character traits that comprise "good character" or "strong character" vary a little bit, depending on which organization you ask. However, many groups agree on a list of good character traits that are based on the core values most organizations, religions, and cultures can agree upon. Character education programs teach from a list of character traits that are built on non-controversial core values.

(For a more complete definition of good traits written for adults, see the 4 Core Values Shared Across Belief Systems, which explains where our shared values come from and which good traits we agree on across cultures.)

What are Good Character Traits?

Good traits help people in society live and work together peacefully.

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Compassion / Forgiveness
  • Perseverance
Rooted in Decency Book on Shared Values / Good Traits

For more specific character traits lists, scroll down:

  • Character Counts Six Pillars of Character
  • Character Education Partnership Character Traits List
  • US Dept of Education Character Traits List
  • Core Values US Constitutional Democracy

Character Counts!* list of character traits:

Character Counts Six Pillars of Character*

  • Trustworthiness (includes honesty)
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring (includes compassion and forgiveness)
  • Citizenship

Character Education Partnership character traits list:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Perseverance
  • Honesty
  • Fortitude
  • Fairness
  • Compassion

US Department of Education

List of character traits necessary to be a responsible citizen:

  • Compassion
  • Honesty and fairness
  • Good judgment
  • Respect for others
  • Self-respect
  • Courage
  • Responsibility
  • Citizenship and patriotism

Core values from US Constitutional Democracy

These are the core values the Founding Fathers looked to as they structured the US Democracy. These core values are what American society was built on. We derive many of our lists of positive character traits from this foundation of core values. (Thanks to PBS for information on these core values.)

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • The pursuit of happiness (includes respecting other's rights to pursue happiness in their own way)
  • Common good (includes acceptance of responsibility for the welfare of the community)
  • Justice (includes fairness)
  • Equality (includes fairness)
  • Diversity
  • Truth (includes honesty in all its aspects)
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Patriotism
Character education teaching resources

Colleen Doyle Bryant

Colleen Doyle Bryant is the author of five books and more than 50 learning resources about making good choices for the right reasons. Her Talking with Trees series for elementary students and Truth Be Told Quotes series for teens are used in curricula around the world. Rooted in Decency, Colleen’s most recent release, written for an adult audience, explores how the decline in common decency is affecting wellbeing, and how we can build more trust and cooperation. Learn more at