To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.

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