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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