DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Starting with Character Activities for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos CATHY WAGGONER and MARTHA HERNDON COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Starting with Character Activities for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos Cathy Waggoner and Martha Herndon COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117 © 2016 by Cathy Waggoner and Martha Herndon All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition 2016 Cover design by Jim Handrigan Cover photograph by junial/Thinkstock Interior design by Percolator Typeset in Sirba Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Waggoner, Cathy.   Starting with character : activities for infants, toddlers, and twos / Cathy  Waggoner and Martha Herndon. — First edition.        pages cm     ISBN 978-1-60554-447-2 (paperback)     ISBN 978-1-60554-448-9 (ebook) 1.  Moral education (Preschool) 2.  Character—Study and teaching—Activity programs. 3.  Children—Conduct of life.  I. Herndon, Martha. II. Title.   LC268.W28 2016   370.11'4—dc23                                                             2015015852 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Dedication Sometimes seeing a new generation can spark someone’s vision to invest in a bold and hopeful idea. Observing the exemplary early childhood education program attended by his grandchildren, retired businessperson Robert Kirkland became inspired to help less fortunate children in his home community. Kirkland believed that at-​r isk chil- dren would be better equipped for school success, and become better citizens in the future, if they had opportunities to participate in high-​ quality early education environments similar to the one experienced by his grandchildren. The program Kirkland’s grandchildren attended used state and national standards for early learning. It was based on the philosophy that children learn best when they are in nurturing environments that are responsive to their academic- and character-development needs. Kirkland returned to his rural hometown and enlisted the help of his Rotary colleagues and several early childhood professionals. As an entrepreneurial businessperson with forty years’ experience in devel- oping successful businesses from the ground up, Kirkland applied his expertise to improving the quality of early childhood environments and school preparation experiences of the children in his community. Kirkland’s vision and generosity resulted in the creation of the nonprofit Promethean Foundation. In December 2004 the foundation began providing funds for at-​r isk children birth to age five to attend high-​quality child care environments. Our community is forever in- debted to the Kirkland family and the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation for its generosity. To you we dedicate this book. Mr. Robert E. Kirkland passed away on April 11, 2015. He was the original motivation behind the development of Starting with Character. He believed the teaching of good character should be intentional and by design. His spirit and character live on through the lives of those he touched. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Contents Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 Chapter 1: What Is Good Character? 3 Character Develops through Interactions 5 Be Sensitive to Developmental Stages 6 Be Patient 7 Character Traits to Support in Young Children 7 Caring 8 Honesty 9 Integrity 10 Respect 11 Responsibility 12 Self-​Discipline 12 Why Teach Good Character? 13 In Conclusion 14 Chapter 2: Character Development in the First Three Years 15 Traditional Views on Moral Development 15 New Insights and Perspectives 16 The Social-​Emotional Potential in Infants 16 Character Potential Grows in Toddlers and Twos 18 The Importance of Healthy Relationships in the Early Years 19 In Conclusion 19 Chapter 3: How Can We Support Character Development in Young Children? 21 Modeling and Demonstrating 22 Conversations 22 Safe, Secure Environments 24 Consistent Routines and Environments 25 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Clear Expectations 26 Scaffolding 28 Practicing Behaviors 29 Chapter 4: Play as a Strategy for Supporting Good Character 31 Sensory Exploration 32 Object Permanence 33 Problem Solving 33 Representational Thinking 34 Understanding Cause and Effect 34 Relational Skills 35 Valuable Areas of Play for Character Development 35 Music 35 Movement 36 Art 37 Blocks 37 Nature and Science 38 Puzzles and Manipulatives 39 Dramatic Play 40 High-​Quality Play Environments 41 Presenting the Activities 43 Character Traits and Objectives (Table) 44 Chapter 5: Character-​Building Activities for Infants and One-​Year-​Olds 47 Chapter 6: Character-​Building Activities for Toddlers 71 Chapter 7: Character-​Building Activities for Two-​Year-​Olds 97 Alphabetical Listing of Activities 127 Bibliography of Children’s Literature 131 References 133 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Acknowledgments Writing a book is not something that happens without the support and assistance of many people. When the Promethean board of directors challenged us to create a guide for teaching positive character development, it seemed at first an impossible task. The journey from research to results took years. This project would never have happened without philanthropists Robert and Jenny Kirkland and their generous Kirkland Foundation. We are also deeply grateful for the guidance of the Union City Rotary Club and governing board, the Promethean board of directors, and early childhood teachers, directors, support personnel, and community leaders. The Kirkland Foundation charged us with the task of developing a program to teach positive character traits to children beginning at birth. We approached the task with hope and a belief in the positive outcome of our endeavors. Many people helped us in our efforts to identify and develop effective and engaging ac- tivities for infants and toddlers. As we developed ideas, we asked teachers to test them in child care centers, and we followed the children in those centers to see if the character education made a difference. We appreciate the assistance of the staff and faculty of Union City School System and Obion County School System as they continue to cooperate with us every year to collect information that helps us understand and evaluate our effectiveness. The individual teachers in the school systems we contacted were always helpful and professional in their responses. The Tennessee Department of Education offered cooperation and a listening ear. The University of Tennessee at Martin provided expertise and assistance in data analysis and volunteers for various activities. To all of you, we are thankful you were willing to participate in this manner. We are also grateful to the staff, volunteers, and interns who worked in our office through the years helping us with data collection, data entry, daily office operation, and numerous other tasks. We appreciated your servant attitude more than you can ever know. It was a constant reminder of the good character virtues we aim to teach young children. We want to specifically recognize some very special individual teachers for their assistance in developing activities for young children. These teachers pro- vided valuable insights into the activities included in the book by testing them in their classrooms and contributing additional ideas. We thank them for this contribution. They include Beth Payne, teacher at Children’s Corner, 2009; Joni Southerland, teacher at Kare Bear, 2009; Teena Lairy Jarmon, teacher at Pumpkin Patch, 2009; Zula Massengill, teacher at Small World, 2009; and Karen Vise, teacher at Small World, 2010. ix COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Introduction Starting with Character came into being when we were challenged to plan a char- acter education program for children ages six weeks to five years. Reviewing the existing literature and resources on character education, we found very little targeting young children. Many materials designed for middle childhood and adolescence were available, but these clearly did not meet the unique and specific needs of young children. Since we know that early childhood is a critical time for learning, the lack of resources was disappointing. When we could not find a character education program for young children, we decided to create one. Have you ever played a game of give and take with an infant? It is a won- derful experience! A baby holding a toy reaches out to hand it to you, offering it with intensity. You take the toy and say, “Thank you!” Then, after a moment of admiring the toy, you offer it back. The baby is thrilled to receive the toy and smiles! Sometimes children will repeat this activity several times. This experi- ence demonstrates the readiness of very young children to express generosity and gratitude, positive character traits. The potential of developing character begins early; therefore, parents, caregivers, and teachers need resources to use with children starting at birth. Research supports that the first five years represent the most critical time for brain development in children. Environmental factors contribute signifi- cantly to brain development during that time (Shore 1997). Stimulating, rich, and developmentally appropriate environments can have powerful and positive impacts, especially for at-​r isk children. Children’s environments in the early years include their homes, the homes of friends and relatives, and their child care settings. For many, as much as 50 percent of each day is spent in child care. With this understanding, we made an effort to develop character education ac- tivities that could be integrated into high-​quality early childhood environments for young children. We all want the best for our children. We want them to grow up and be able to get along with others and to be successful in school and in their careers. We ask ourselves what success looks like. It’s clear that success is more than simply learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. Success encompasses all aspects of development—​mental, emotional, physical, and social. In addition, success relates to the character of a person. Therefore, integrating a focus on character develop- ment in early education makes sense. All children should have the opportunity to be successful, to be prepared for school, and to develop positive character traits. 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 2 INTRODUCTION Our book Starting with Character: Activities for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos became a reality through a ten-​year process. Having realized the need, we set out to identify and develop activities for young children that would lay the foundation for positive character building. We hosted professional development workshops to share the results we were finding and the activities we had developed with child care providers. These providers then took the activities back to their programs and contributed feedback to us that helped further revise and develop additional activities. Eventually we decided to develop this book as a means of sharing our ideas with a broader audience. The first four chapters of Starting with Character provide background infor- mation about character development in young children. The first chapter focuses on the fundamental meaning and importance of character. It also introduces the specific character traits we chose as “doable” with younger children. Chapter 2 contains information about the development of character in young children. Chapter 3 includes the strategies parents and caregivers can use to encourage positive character, and chapter 4 focuses on the importance of play and supportive environments in character development. It also includes a list of the codes used to designate specific character benefits and objectives to use with the activities that follow. The remaining chapters consist of activities: chapter 5 targets babies through fifteen months; chapter 6, toddlers; and chapter 7, two-​year-​olds. At the end of the book, we provide an alphabetical listing of activities by chapter, a com- plete bibliography of the children’s literature we have highlighted, and a reference list of sources. We hope the resources in this book are as beneficial to you as they have been to us and to those who have used these activities in our community. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET What Is Good Character? Two-​year-​old Becky had just become a big sister to new baby William. When she heard her new brother crying on his first afternoon at home, Becky ran to her room, grabbed her favorite stuffed animal, and brought it back to him. She ob- viously wanted to help and thought of sharing with him her own most precious, comforting object. Young children often amaze us by the caring and generosity they show. At other times, we know that they can be incredibly unaware of others’ needs and feelings, and selfish in their reactions and behaviors. Becky, the same child who so lovingly shared her beloved toy with her new brother, later that day took a crayon and “wrote” his name on his dresser. When her mom questioned how the red marks got there, Becky rolled her eyes in her brother’s direction and answered sharply, “That baby did it.” Within a day’s time, the same child demonstrated both unmistakable caring and seemingly spiteful dishonesty. As caregivers, we undoubtedly find ourselves observing the behaviors of chil- dren in our lives on a daily, if not constant, basis. We notice, feel concerned, and probably step up to reprimand when the behaviors are what we consider bad or hurtful. Alternatively, we may rejoice inwardly, feel pride, and praise children when we see positive, generous, or kind behaviors. We’re attuned to children’s behaviors in large part because it’s our job as caregivers to monitor and safeguard them. But most of us also watch and notice behaviors, looking for signs of each child’s inner character. We hope to see evidence of a strong and good character emerging. And we may fear and worry about any hints of less-​than-​fine character in a child. We look for signs of character as we naturally wonder and ponder about 3 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 4 CHAPTER 1 what kind of adult this girl or that boy will become, what she will stand up for, or what kind of contribution he will someday make to his community. Before going further, it will help to clarify exactly what is meant by this con- cept of character. It is one of those ideas that most likely we all understand in- tuitively but may never have had to define. Clearly, there are many definitions out there in the world, including statements as simple as “what a person is on the inside.” For the purposes of this book, character is defined as the moral and interpersonal qualities that form the essence of a person, guiding his or her behavior especially in relation to others and community. And just as we can find numerous definitions of the concept, we can also find countless lists of qualities considered to constitute good character. Just a few examples are kindness, trustworthiness, fairness, courage, loyalty, and generosity. Character is what makes each of us who we are. Our behaviors manifest our character, but character is truly more fundamental than behaviors. The word itself derives from the Greek charakter, referring to a stamping tool or a mark impressed or engraved on a coin. We might say that our character is something engraved on us. It is the inner compass that guides our thinking and our actions in all aspects of our lives. That is not to say that people of good character will never hurt or offend others or make poor choices; rather, the overall pattern of behavior is typically consistent with their character, no matter the circumstances. Much has been written and hypothesized on the question of how one’s char- acter forms. We can find various theories, for example, on the role of nature or nurture. The next chapter provides a very brief overview of some of the research related to character development in young children. Suffice it to say, we believe that every person has the capability of developing, practicing, and possessing good character. The development of good character can begin and be supported in the youngest of children, even infants. Although caregivers of infants, toddlers, and twos may sometimes find it hard to believe, these little ones are learning and forming impressions from the moment they are born. For example, research has shown that newborns rec- ognize and can demonstrate preference for their mother’s voices within days of birth (DeCasper and Fifer 1980). Researchers measured the strength and pattern of infant pacifier sucking and found that they could control and alter their suck- ing to trigger recordings of their own mothers’ voices more often than recordings of unknown females. We also know that infants are capable of imitating simple adult facial gestures (Meltzoff and Moore 1983). In other words, learning and development begin without any formalized plan, whether caregivers are ready or not! COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHAT IS GOOD CHARACTER? Of course children learn and develop cognitively and physically during their first years, but they also clearly and steadily develop in the social-​emotional realm. For example, infant smiling begins at around four to six weeks, typically sparked by positive interactions with the significant people around them. Parents and caregivers of infants know very well the joy of seeing those early smiles and the fun of using tickling, baby talk, and facial expressions to encourage their frequent occurrence. It is within the context of infants earliest social-​emotional developments—​learning to experience, manage, and understand emotions and then relate to and interact with others—​that character begins to form. Character Develops through Interactions Beginning at birth, interactions are the medium for all character development. Young children are shaped and influenced in fundamental ways by the quality of interactions they experience with the key adults in their lives. For example, when infants are treated with patience and gentleness by caregivers, they begin to absorb and instinctively appreciate those qualities in human interactions. When infants cry and their needs are met, they begin to build a foundation of trust in their caregivers. The ability to trust others helps build positive connections and supports their instinct to then be trustworthy themselves in the future. Long before children can cognitively understand or describe the qualities of good char- acter, they can intuitively and emotionally sense and appreciate the feelings as- sociated with those qualities. Although parents and other family members in the home are the major influ- ence on children’s character development, all caregivers and teachers who interact with them can make a difference. Caregivers can support an infant’s character development by meeting her needs for cuddling, feeding, diapering, and social interaction in consistently loving and respectful ways during the span of time the infant is in their care. Likewise, caregivers can support a toddler’s and a two-​year-​ old’s character development through rich conversations and play, role modeling, and consistently respectful treatment. Caregivers and parents are encouraged to realize their potential to guide young children in character development right from the start. We don’t have to wait until children can speak, read, or understand sophisticated intellectual con- cepts to begin teaching character. There are endless opportunities to teach and support the development of good character in very young children. Clearly the best approach for doing so is by setting a good example. When children see their significant adults exhibiting positive character traits, they internalize those traits COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 5 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 6 CHAPTER 1 and often imitate the behaviors. Picture fifteen-​month-​old Tamika watching her mom gently helping her aging Granny settle into a chair. Tamika then goes up and pats Granny on the knee. She is clearly imitating a gesture she saw her mom previously perform to comfort Granny. Or imagine eighteen-​month-​old Jacob watching his caregiver comfort baby Gina after her parent leaves. Jacob then goes to crying Gina and hands her a toy to play with, imitating a comforting gesture he has witnessed or experienced. Although one’s character is more fundamental than simply one’s behaviors, there is great value in simply teaching and expecting the behaviors that exem- plify good character, even when children are too young to truly comprehend explanations of or rationale for the behaviors. In fact, there can be a synergistic relationship between practicing actions associated with positive character and gradual development of the associated character trait. For example, when parents expect children to say thank you upon receiving a gift, children may not yet truly understand gratitude but are practicing the behavior. Be Sensitive to Developmental Stages When supporting the development of good character, it is important for parents and caregivers to be attuned to the normal and appropriate developmental stages through which children pass. Such sensitivity can help adults convey character messages in developmentally appropriate ways. It can also assuage concerns about a child’s “bad” or challenging behaviors that may in fact be perfectly normal for their developmental stage and not at all reflective of poor character. For example, little Becky’s instinct to accuse her baby brother of her wrongdoing in the earlier story was a natural outcome of her two-​year-​old inability to process the major emotional upheaval that occurs when a new baby arrives. Think about toddlers who routinely grab toys from other children. In the vast majority of cases, this behavior doesn’t indicate poor character; rather, it is a normal developmental stage in which sharing is challenging. Toddlers naturally focus on their own needs and wants at the exclusion of others. While we often talk about children’s development as if it can be separated into parts, such as social-​emotional, physical, language, or cognitive, the fact is that children’s development is a total package. Character development is interdepen- dent with all other areas of development. Consequently, any effort to “teach” or support character development should be appropriately matched with develop- mental expectations. In doing so, the character lessons can contribute to building important foundations for learning. For example, we know that young children COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHAT IS GOOD CHARACTER? learn best through play. So verbally explaining the importance of sharing will be far less effective than instigating playful games that allow children to practice sharing while having fun. Be Patient Perhaps it goes without saying that teaching good character is not like teaching a specific cognitive or physical skill, in which an outcome or accomplishment can be clearly assessed. Character formation is cumulative, gradual, and may be largely unobservable during the early years. Just as children pass from one developmental stage to another, with each accomplishment building a foundation for the next, one experience or impression of positive character can be the building block for the next. Although a two-​year-​old may not voluntarily share her toys, it doesn’t mean that there is no value in letting her observe sharing, as well as encouraging and inviting her to try, though it may be very challenging at first. We can help her to gradually view sharing in a new way, as interesting and potentially fun, even if it might be a little scary. Suddenly one day we will turn around, and she will be sharing on her own. A caregiver or parent can never know exactly when the seeds she plants will germinate and begin to grow into legitimately self-​motivated acts on the part of the child. Character Traits to Support in Young Children The youngest years are prime for character development, and yet in our experi- ence as early childhood professionals, we have found that much of the discussion and literature on character and character building focuses on older children and adults, assuming a certain cognitive ability and communication skill level. There are few materials or resources for supporting character development in infants, toddlers, and twos. This book provides everyday interactions and play activities that caregivers and parents can do with infants, toddlers, and twos that serve to promote char- acter development. Some of these activities may be familiar to you, although you may not have thought about how they can also serve to stimulate good character qualities. Focusing on this potential benefit can help us better appreciate our influence as caregivers on young children and inspire us to be more intentional in our interactions. As mentioned, one could list many qualities commonly associated with good character. In this book, we focus on six that can truly be supported, modeled, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 7 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 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHAT IS GOOD CHARACTER? pick up their own toys, feed the pets, pick up trash, turn off the water spigot after using, and handle flowers gently, they experience basic but valuable lessons in caring for the environment, our shared space. Honesty Honesty is the basis for trust and a critical ingredient in loving, fulfilling, success- ful relationships. Not only do we want and need to trust other people in order to function successfully in society, but we also want and need others to trust us. The foundation for understanding and embracing trust and honesty begins in infancy through children’s experience of the care they receive by their significant adults. Children begin learning to trust when they experience consistent and predictable nurturing care. Long before they can define or explain their feelings, children develop instincts about others’ trustworthiness. Experiencing others to be trustworthy fuels children’s instinct to then be trustworthy themselves. Young children continue to develop their understanding of honesty through their experiences with pretend play. Through this type of play, they get valuable practice in distinguishing between what is real and what is not real. At a certain developmental stage, it is perfectly normal for toddlers to get somewhat confused about this distinction and perhaps seem to devote far more energy to the imaginary world than the real. But this is not something to worry about. The imagination is a critical cognitive tool that will serve them in countless ways as they mature, including helping them understand others’ perspectives, visualize and solve prob- lems, come up with new ideas, and think creatively. Ultimately their experiences in pretend play will help to clarify the distinction between real and pretend, and to develop their ability to grasp the reality of truth. At a certain stage, it is also common for young children to make up stories as a way of explaining things they do not understand or to avoid punishment, as in the earlier scenario with big sister Becky. This is developmentally normal and not an indication of dishonest character. Adults can promote honesty by giving gentle feedback, helping children to distinguish between truth and fiction, and embracing the truth even when it is challenging. Beginning from birth, children benefit from seeing us model honesty in our relationships. This sounds like a simple task, but it can be challenging. We may often lie to children without thinking. For example, a parent may say, “Mmm . . . this medicine is good,” as a way of encouraging the child to take it. When the child swallows the medicine and finds it to be horribly bitter, she experiences a parent who didn’t tell the truth. It would be better to say something like, “Medicine will make you feel better.” Other times, we may say, “You’re not hurt,” when we want to COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 9 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 10 CHAPTER 1 encourage a child to recover from a fall quickly without inconveniencing us, while in fact the child definitely feels pain. Failing to acknowledge a child’s legitimate feelings is a form of dishonesty. It would be better to say, “I know falling hurts, but let me help you stand so I can check your hurt.” Another example of mild, yet significant, parental dishonesty is when parents sneak away from home or child care drop-​off without saying good-​bye because they wish to avoid a tearful and challenging scene. This is an understandable choice, as it is not easy to deal with an upset and clingy child. But what message does it communicate to the child? It is better to face the departure with honesty and help children learn to accept the process of separation. Children honestly need to know what we expect from them and what they can expect from us. Integrity Related to honesty, integrity is the quality of having strong moral principles and values that guide one’s decisions and actions regardless of circumstances. People with high integrity make decisions consistently in line with their values and do what they say they will do, opting not to cut corners or slough off responsibili- ties even when they might face an easy opportunity to do so without penalty or consequence. Young children form their first unconscious impressions of integrity through observing the behaviors of parents, caregivers, and teachers. Adults demonstrate integrity in small but significant ways when we do things like stop consistently at stop signs, even when no one is watching, or walk the extra few steps to place the soda can in the recycling bin rather than the more convenient trash can. We can support children in their development of integrity by starting early with providing them opportunities to practice simple decision making. Decision making empowers children by giving them a sense of control. It also lets them gradually develop awareness of their reasons for making a certain choice, not to mention the consequences that any given choice might have. For example, if you choose to play at the water table, your sleeves will most likely get wet. If you flip the lunch plate upside down, your food gets mangled and mixed up. When chil- dren make “good” choices, caregivers can reinforce their choice by praising them and verbally noting the positive consequences. When they make “bad” choices, caregivers can let them experience the negative consequences, including our disapproval. Some young children will be highly motivated by the desire for an adult’s approval but, given time and experience, will eventually mature into find- ing inner motivation for doing what is right. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHAT IS GOOD CHARACTER? Adults can also encourage children’s development of integrity by supporting them in following through with decisions. Follow-​through sometimes takes great courage, especially when it involves doing something that is new or challenging, such as climbing the big slide for the first time or experimenting with dipping their face into water in the baby pool. Children gain courage to follow through on decisions by having support and encouragement from loving caregivers. At times this kind of support might involve shadowing a young child in order to physically help him follow through on a decision. At other times it may be as simple as stay- ing nearby, ready to help if the situation should require it. Respect Respect is an attitude of honoring parents, others, nature, beliefs, property, and self, and it is key to well-​being and healthy relationships. When people treat others with respect, they work to see others’ points of view and care for their feelings, and they exhibit courtesy and polite manners in their interactions. Although we often think of respect as something demonstrated between peers or shown by young people toward elders, adults can and should show respect to young chil- dren, thereby demonstrating it and helping them embrace it for themselves. Parents, caregivers, and teachers can show respect for infants by caring for them consistently, with patience and gentleness. Toddlers and two-​year-​olds can be shown respect by acknowledging each child’s presence and individuality, treating each as a highly valued individual, listening attentively to every child’s communications, and responding sensitively to their needs and feelings. Young children notice and value when they are treated with respect. They yearn to be noticed positively, acknowledged for their skills and abilities, and allowed to pro- ceed independently. Listening well is an obvious way of demonstrating respect for others and is especially powerful when adults listen well and attentively to young children. Starting from a very young age, children notice when adults give them their full attention or conversely give only partial or distracted attention. This does not mean that we should grant children our undivided attention every single time they ask for it. Children also benefit greatly from learning to wait patiently for “their turn” to receive attention while adults engage in business or conversation. Such experiences of appropriate waiting provide important lessons in respect. We can demonstrate and teach children respect for others through practicing good manners, such as covering our mouths when we cough or saying “Excuse me” when we bump into someone. It’s our job as caregivers to remind children COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 11 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 12 CHAPTER 1 of good manners, review and help them practice the skills, and then praise them when they successfully remember to use manners without a reminder. When children exhibit behavior that we perceive as disrespectful, we have an opportunity to teach about respect. We may feel angry, but we can turn situations around by modeling respect and giving children the vocabulary and actions they need to communicate respect in return. For example, when a child makes the demand “Gimme juice,” we can respond by simply and respectfully stating that we expect her to use polite words at the table, and wait until she says or signs “please” before giving her the juice. Responsibility Responsibility is the state of being personally accountable for and trusted to ac- complish something. Most people vividly remember the exciting moments of being entrusted with our first adult responsibilities—​perhaps being allowed to take the family car or accepting a first paying job or receiving a promotion to a management position. We recall how much pride and excitement we felt to know that we were trusted and deemed worthy of such responsibilities. Being granted responsibility often fuels one to feel more capable and to strive to excel or grow in one’s abilities. In the same way, children can experience a level of excitement and pride when they are given responsibility for age-​appropriate tasks and chores. The seeds of accepting and embracing responsibility are planted in the first years through having opportunities to carry out simple, developmentally appropriate tasks. A baby can be given the simple task of holding a clean diaper while being changed. A one-​year-​old can have the job of hanging his coat on a child-​height peg. By age two, children can be assigned very simple chores, like helping to pick up toys, feeding pets, and putting dirty clothes into hampers. Just like adults, young children experience great satisfaction and pride in completing jobs. Children also experience a sense of being “in control” and a measure of independence, an extremely positive experience for toddlers and twos. Yes, an adult can do the job faster and much more efficiently, but if we constantly do everything for children, they miss opportunities to develop their own sense of responsibility. As young children get older, they benefit greatly from experi- encing gradual increases in responsibility. Self-​Discipline Self-​discipline is the ability to control one’s behavior, respect rules, pursue and achieve goals, stick with difficult challenges, resist problematic temptations, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET WHAT IS GOOD CHARACTER? and make good decisions. It is key to both individual success and a smoothly functioning society. Self-​discipline is an extremely important developmental skill for children, enabling successes for them just as much as it does for adults. Young children need self-​discipline to develop physically, control their bodies, and manage basic emo- tions and urges. Adults can support infants in the development of self-​discipline by providing secure, loving care and environments where they can experience feelings of safety and self-​worth. Feeling safe and valuable frees the brain to focus on growth. We can support toddlers and twos by providing clear rules, limits, and ex- pectations. Children yearn for the structure and safety of clear expectations. We can also guide children in developing self-​discipline by suggesting strategies and creating situations that facilitate their successes. For example, young children are often tantalized by electronic devices, such as phones and computers. We can make an effort to keep these devices out of their sight, thus limiting a very difficult temptation, and we can make more appropriate toys available to engage them. Caregivers can also intervene as necessary when children are struggling or unable to control their behavior. If we see a toddler is about to knock all the toys off the shelf, we can step in to redirect her attention toward more constructive behaviors. We can also praise children and provide plenty of positive feedback when they do exhibit self-​control. Perhaps above all else, we can role-​model self-​discipline in the daily choices and activities with which we engage. Self-​discipline is not typically achieved in a once-​and-​for-​all manner. It is more often a practice to which we all must dedicate and rededicate ourselves throughout our lives. Experiencing early les- sons and successes in self-​discipline can create momentum for the practice in adulthood. Why Teach Good Character? We support character development in children because we want to help them be successful in the world, and we know that having fine, upstanding character will help them toward that goal. We also want to raise children who will contribute to a better future and a healthy world. The lessons of good character are at the core of creating a better place for all of us to live. Our world would continue to improve if all people were more respectful and caring, honest and responsible, and dedicated to making good choices. We can’t necessarily change the world, but we can change one small piece—​our interactions with the young children in COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 13 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 14 CHAPTER 1 our care. We can help guide children to develop positive character traits from the beginning by intentionally exposing them to the values and qualities we consider important. We can begin by making these lessons key for children. Caregivers can make a significant difference in promoting children’s success in life. In Conclusion Each home, classroom, and community should be a place where people feel safe and secure, able to express themselves as individuals, and confident in the under­ lying and consistent set of positive values that shape rules and interactions. Par- ents are a child’s first teachers, but we are all part of a network influencing the social and cultural environments of young children. Teaching character is the responsibility of parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and the commu- nity. We are partners working together to support children as they learn the vital lessons necessary to contribute to a just and caring society. It’s important, therefore, to intentionally build character lessons into the daily activities of family life and child care rather than leaving them to chance. Planning for good character changes children by promoting a positive social environment. This book contains ideas to use in teaching good character, including suggestions for incorporating character lessons in language, reading, math, science, social studies, music, and art. When we integrate good character into everything we teach, it becomes a part of all learning. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET C U R R I C U L U M / S T R AT E G I E S How do you influence positive character development in children? Starting with Character is your guide to supporting six key character traits in young children: caring, honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, and self-discipline. Discover why intentional character development is important and how your classroom routines and activities can foster the character foundation children continue to build on during their lifetime. Starting with Character shows you: the social-emotional potential of infants, toddlers, and twos how to support character development every day guides for evaluating children’s progress “This book gives parents and teachers of little ones concrete, easy activities they can start today that will prepare children for tomorrow. It encourages caregivers to look beyond using short-term applied behavior methods and take a long-term view toward the goal of character.” activities specific to the abilities of infants, toddlers, and twos —Rebecca Gray, MA, CCC-SLP It is never too early to start building good character. Cathy Waggoner has worked in the field of Martha Herndon, PhD, has worked as both an ECE educator education since 1989 and currently serves and researcher since 1971. She received her PhD in Individual as an administrator at the Promethean and Family Behavior with a focus on developing programs Foundation. Her work with young children and optimal environments for children and families from the has focused on character development and University of Tennessee. Dr. Herndon is currently a professor the importance of providing quality early in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at the education for all children. University of Tennessee at Martin. ISBN 978-1-60554-447-2 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $24.95