When most people refer to "building character," they're referring to encouraging positive traits in children, such as honesty, patience and good citizenship. Since the teen years can be tumultuous and full of new experiences, it's important to help your teen navigate temptations and potentially tricky situations. You can role-play ethical challenges with your teen to help him prepare for future challenges or play character-building games and sports.
A teen may admire someone famous for all the wrong reasons. Assemble a list of who your teen thinks is a hero. Write the names down. Discuss what it means to be a hero, providing your teen with examples of people who have taken risks to help others. Go through her list together, and list any risks that her heroes have taken and who they've helped. This game can help her see that being famous, rich or handsome can make someone popular, but that doesn't necessarily make that person a hero. Get her to make a second list of people who have taken risks to help others. If you have more than one teen, you can make it a competition to see who gets the most names, or act out actions in a game of charades and have the teens try to guess who the other person is pretending to be.
Sports are a great way to instill character in your child. Competitive sports teach your teen about fairness, working hard and cooperating as a team. Players also learn to pay attention to their reputations and how this can impact the team and their school or community. If you think your child's coach isn't instilling such values, consider moving your teen to another team where the coach focuses on the whole person as opposed to just winning. Better yet, volunteer to help on the field so you can help pass along positive values.
"What Do You Stand For?" Game
What Do You Stand For? is a teen- and kid-friendly character-building card game that is available for purchase online. The game features ten character cards, with traits such as cooperation, caring, forgiveness and responsibility. Two to four players compete to collect one of each card. Each character card has questions and scenarios. Teens are encouraged to define each trait, apply it to someone they know, share an example of how they've embodied the trait, address a scenario and talk about how to improve that trait at home or school.
Yan-koloba originates from Africa and helps to teach its players about respect, compassion, trust, tolerance, leadership, responsibility and working as a part of an interdependent team. Players work together to move wooden blocks rhythmically around a closed circle at a constant speed while chanting, helping them to work cooperatively as a team. Players are weaved into the chant by the leader. Because of the coordination needed to keep the rhythm while chanting and passing, players also challenge themselves while learning to trust that their neighbors will keep the beat.