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Does Character Really Matter?

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2019

How your child rates on simple character measures in Kindergarten will predict if your child will graduate from high school on time, complete a college degree, and be employed in a stable and long term job as an adult.  We know these things from as early as Kindergarten.  Let’s take this a step further.  We also know that a child’s lack of positive character skills in Kindergarten can predict if that child will be involved with the police before adulthood, the number of arrests they will have, the likelihood of living in public housing, and their engagement in risky binge drinking behaviors. All of this from as early as Kindergarten.  It’s been studied over and over again on large sample sizes where they followed the same children for almost 20 years(1). And we know time and time again, that IQ scores, SAT scores, Achievement testing, and even letter grades, are not as accurate at predicting long-term success outcomes as character skills are(2).

We also know that humans thrive on connection, specifically social connection to others.  A Harvard study spanning almost 80 years, has linked Happiness in Life to Good Relationships with Others(3). It turns out the secret to longevity and happiness is having meaningful and positive relationships with others. (See powerful TED Talk Here). Some of my biggest fears with parenting are if my children will be happy as adults and what kind of relationships my children will have with others. One way that many parents measure success is if their child can be in and maintain a long-term relationship with another person when they are an adult.  But how do we teach this?  What skills do we strengthen when our children are young?  As it turns out, character skills like Gratitude, Generosity, Positivity, Forgiveness, and Being Aware of Others are all character skills that are significantly related to positive relationship outcomes(4).  Adults with high levels of Generosity are less likely to have conflict with others and less likely to divorce. And the best part about this knowledge, is that it’s not too late and skills like Generosity and Compassion can be increased with practice.  It’s just like working out a muscle.  Character skills can grow stronger.
The next time you are spending hours with your child on homework, take a look at the material they are learning, the brain muscles they are building.  While hard skills like Math and English are so very important, so are skills like Compassion, Generosity, Self-Control, and Optimism.  Share your plan for teaching these crucial character skills with us.  We love learning new and creative ways that parents integrate character growth into everyday activities.  And if you don’t have a well thought-out and organized plan for ensuring you are raising your child with positive character, then join us at Raising Character and we’ll give you step-by-step, easy to follow ways for raising children you’ll be proud of as adults.  We’ll show you how to easily strengthen those character muscles.
Follow along on Instagram @RaisingCharacter and make sure to take the free Character Strengths Quiz from our website at  Many parents have already received their free Character Strengths Interventions and are sharing ways they have integrated these easy steps into their daily lives.  Show us how you are integrating these skills.
Let’s raise children we’ll be proud of as adults.
Maylin Griffiths, Ph.D
1. Fast Track Project, United States, 1991-2010; Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley. Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness (American Journal of Public Health) 2015.
2. Heckman, Kautz. Fostering And Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition (National Bureau of Economic Research) 2013; Almlund, Duckworth, Heckman, & Kautz. Personality Psychology and Economics (Institute for the Study of Labor) 2011.
4. Goddard, Olson, Galovan, Schramm, & Marshall. Qualities of Character That Predict Marital Well-Being (Family Relations) 2016; Dew & Wilcox. Generosity and the Maintenance of Marital Quality. (Journal of Marriage and Family) 2013.

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