Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen: Activities I

— U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Feb 26, 2009



Making good decisions is an important part of strong character.

What to Do

    Children learn to exercise good judgment by having many opportunities to make decisions on their own.
  • Think out loud when you are making a difficult decision, so that your child can hear how you do it.

  • Regularly take time to make a family decision with your child so that she can practice with you. Help her learn to think about the pros and cons, the effects of the decision on others and how to meet her obligations as a family member and citizen.

  • Talk with your child about decisions made by characters on TV or in stories. Ask him to decide whether the characters thought about everything they should have, whether the decision was the best decision and what he would have done if he were the character.

  • Let your preschool child choose what to wear, even if it means her clothers don't always match. This will make her feel empowered and help build self-confidence.

Being a person of good character often requires having patience and sticking to something.

What to Do

    Children need to learn that they sometimes have to be willing to work hard and wait for good things to come to them.
  • Let your child see you practice patience when doing a new or difficult task or when facing life's everyday frustrations, such as heavy traffic.

  • Arrange to use a timer as you and your child work at a difficult task. For young children, start with one minute and build from there. This will build perseverance.

  • Help your children understand that work comes before pleasure in simple everyday ways, such as homework before TV or chores before play.

  • Make a game out of doing hard tasks. How many pieces of spilled popcorn can we pick up? Who can break the record for washing the most windows (washing them well, of course)? 

Is honesty always the best policy? Older children face many occasions that test the principle "honesty is the best policy." Your child may ask you, for example, "But do I have to tell Jesse the truth when she asks me if I like her new haircut? If I say yes, that's a lie. But if I say no, I'll hurt her feelings!" In addition, children often see and read about people who have become very successful and wealthy by being dishonest.

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