Build up a Child’s Character for Life Success

Building Better Futures Together

By United Way Staff

It’s been a summer of letting children’s character shine here at the United Way.

Before the final school bell even rang, we partnered with local school districts to recognize some amazing junior high students with Character Awards at the end of the school year. From there, our six-week Fun in the Sun summer learning program got underway, incorporating character- and values-based education into its academic and enrichment curriculum.

It’s all been in the name of emphasizing what decades of university research has confirmed: Teaching and increasing solid core values and character traits help to accelerate both the speed and the height of academic accomplishments and life success.

At Fun in the Sun and United Way’s partner schools, we support research-based tools like Character Counts! and Search Institute’s Healthy Developmental Assets programs.

Character education isn’t just for teachers to implement, however; it is also important for parents to model and promote good character at home. The Character Counts! curriculum emphasizes the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. Students remember them with a mnemonic device – TRRFCC, remembered as “terrific.”

Here are a few ways to reinforce character development at home:

– Recognize your child daily for any or all behavior that exemplifies the Six Pillars of Character. This can be as simple as a compliment or can even involve a rewards system.

– Compile a “Random Acts of Kindness” list with your children and let them select a good deed to perform anonymously during the week.

– Volunteer as a family to help improve your school or community. If you’re stumped for volunteer opportunities, plan to come to United Way’s Day of Caring service day on Saturday, Sept. 16, or visit for a list of opportunities.

– Remember to use the T.E.A.M. approach: Teach children that their character counts for their future; Enforce the Six Pillars by rewarding good behavior and discouraging bad behavior through fair and consistent consequences; Advocate for good character in all your child’s thoughts and actions; and Model good character by holding yourself to the same high standards you have for your child.

As we enter the final weeks of summer, remember the power you have to positively affect how your child grows while you’re together. You may not be able to do everything on our list, but try picking one that sounds fun and get started today!