What is good character?

Being a person with good character means you act with honesty, respect, responsibility, caring, and other "good" traits.

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 sum of how someone usually interacts with others and how they treat themselves.

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

Good traits may also be called good values or good morals. We call them "good" values or morals because they are traits societies generally agree help everyone to get along well in life. These "good" morals or values are generally accepted as being "right" choices, like being honest, respectful, responsibile, caring. There are also attributes society considers to be "wrong", like 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 to be “wrong”.

For more about good character, scroll down:

  • Examples of Good Character
  • Building Good Character
  • Good Character in Everyday Life

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. Someone with good character believes they should make good choices and shows over time that they almost always make choices that are honest, respectful, fair, caring, and responsible. Making a mistake doesn’t mean you don’t have good character. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from them. But, when someone of good character makes a mistake, they take responsibility for it. 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 from Real Life

What would someone with good character do?

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.

What would someone with good character do?

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.

What would someone with good character do?

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 watch it, you won’t have time to study. A person with good character acts responsibly and finishes their work.

Good Character 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 to teach good character traits and social emotional skills like honesty, respect, responsibility, and kindness. More than 100,000 of her good values resources are downloaded each year by parents and teachers around the world. Rooted in Decency, Colleen’s first book for an adult audience, considers why America’s divisive culture is damaging common decency, and how society can get to a shared set of values that promotes cooperation and trust. Learn more at ColleenDoyleBryant.com