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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 8 CHAPTER 1 demonstrated, and encouraged to manifest during the earliest years: caring, hon- esty, integrity, respect, responsibility, and self-discipline. These six traits are also commonly found in other literature on character development. Caring The ability to show caring is a pillar of good character. There are benefits to cre- ating a world where people freely demonstrate caring. We would all be healthier and happier if we cared consistently for others, the environment, and ourselves. In a caring world, children would be nurtured (not neglected or abused), adults would demonstrate their care for one another, homes would be comfortable and inviting, and people would be safe and have access to fundamental services and comforts. Infants and young children intuitively yearn to be comforted and cared for by loving adults. Perhaps even more importantly, they are entirely dependent on adults’ care. Therefore, they are constantly learning and observing, through the type of care they receive, what it means to care for another. This happens long before they can cognitively process or describe the actions of caring. Like Becky in the opening story, very young children often demonstrate caring behaviors possibly driven by instinct, or maybe modeled after what they have experienced or observed in the past. Regardless, the expression of caring is one that can be easily affirmed, supported, and encouraged in very young children. As children grow physically and cognitively, they can begin practicing simple caring behaviors, such as gentle touches toward pets and friends, careful han- dling of toys and belongings, respectful treatment of flowers and nature, and regular hand washing and bathing. Very young children can also observe and mimic in a rudimentary fashion how the adults in their lives care for themselves, including personal safety, health, hygiene, nutrition, and appearance. Describing self-care actions to young children is powerful even if they don’t fully understand the words, and it can begin to build their caring vocabulary. For example, before meals we can demonstrate and describe hand washing by saying, “I need to wash my hands before I eat to get rid of all the germs. I’ll use soap and scrub, scrub, scrub until they are clean.” An ethic of caring for the environment can also begin forming in the first years. As adults we can intentionally pick up trash or maintain a backyard bird feeder and describe what we’re doing to children. We can care for our indoor envi- ronments by keeping them clean and arranging them aesthetically and efficiently. Intentional room arrangements with clear and accessible storage for toys can help toddlers and twos learn to care for their things. When we encourage children to COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL