7 Core Behavioural Traits to Develop in Your Child
Teach your child these seven core behavioural traits, as gifting the world a well-balanced individual is like throwing a pebble into a pond—the ripples of his positive conduct will spread far and wide
By Arun Sharma • 10 min read
Almost every species of life forms displays certain behavioural traits. However, it is only humans who possess the ability to change or develop their behaviour, such that it puts them at an advantage. And, how do humans do that? Initially through learning, and then experience.
While we live by the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, the responsibility of helping a child learn good behavioural traits rests solely with parents. Here are seven core behavioural traits to develop in your child, to not only make him an exemplary human being but also future-ready.
1. Emotional resilience: The ability to successfully face and deal with stress determines how far an individual would go in life. While some children remain committed until they achieve their goal, some give up at the first sign of adversity. However, lack of emotional resilience in a child shouldn’t overly concern parents, as it is a trait that can be inculcated in a child, albeit with a little effort.
- How to develop it: To help your child become emotionally resilient, teach him problem-solving skills, to have a never-say-die attitude, to have an optimistic outlook, to avoid catastrophising, to manage emotions well, and to learn specific skills.
2. Empathy: The ability to understand the emotional state of someone and reciprocate aptly reflects empathy. It not only helps us connect with the feelings and thoughts of others but also prevents us from indulging in acts that may hurt others or cause them pain. Empathy lies at the heart of forging close and long-lasting interpersonal relationships.
"Empathy is a quality that profoundly influences the behaviour of a child, regardless of age. Empathetic children are often described as being considerate towards others, concerned about the environment around and accommodating in situations of flux. Empathy makes a mind open, and therefore, creative, innovative and exceptional at problem-solving. Most importantly, it makes a child malleable and open to discern and comprehend the views of others." —*Hannah S Mathew
- How to develop it: To help your child learn empathy, begin by labelling feelings. Train her to understand nonverbal cues, inculcate self-regulation skills, learn to be polite, and build conflict-management skills.
3. Resourcefulness: Several times in our life we need to use problem-solving skills imaginatively to find effective solutions. For children, learning to be resourceful begins with visualising things around them in a creative way. For example, placing a small table on top of a larger one to act as a ladder or using a newspaper as a hand fan and so on.
- How to develop it: The ability to be resourceful is inspired by creativity and quick-thinking. Some simple ways to teach your child to be resourceful are: brainstorming for new ideas, asking your child to come up with a plan to old recycle items, and encouraging independent thinking.
4. Assertiveness: A lot of us confuse assertiveness with aggression. Assertiveness, with regard to a child, is all about speaking up for himself in a respectful manner but still being considerate about needs of others.
- How to develop it: Developing assertiveness in a child, especially a submissive one, requires time and effort. You can begin by pointing out assertive characters in TV shows or movies, have your child practise talking assertively in front of a mirror, role-playing, and modelling it yourself for your child to watch and learn.
5. Integrity: The British novelist and academic, CS Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Those who exercise integrity do it not to win recognition or rewards, but practise it as it is the best thing to do.
“Children are not born with integrity or the behaviours we associate with it. However, when parents foster integrity in their child, they help the child believe in herself, which increases their self-efficacy.” —#Vijayalakshmi
“A child who has integrity respects authority and does not cross the line because of a perfect understanding of what behaviour is expected of him. It is important to note that his obedience does not stem from fear but from a sense of responsibility. His life (and those of his overseers) will be peaceful and simple as he never breaks rules. Later in life, he won’t question his own actions in hindsight and will easily earn the trust of others, because of his honesty." —*Hannah S Mathew
- How to develop it: Since integrity can be a little difficult to explain to children, the best way to teach it is to model it. To encourage your child to follow your example, point out to her instances of positive moral behaviour, teach her to respect others, not to lie, and apologise when wrong. Also, give them tasks and let them do it without supervision to see if they adhere to principles of integrity.
6. Curiosity: While intelligence is important for academic and professional success, curiosity is also vital. For, it is curiosity that inspires an individual to learn and have new experiences. In their article, ‘The Hungry Mind: Intellectual Curiosity Is the Third Pillar of Academic Performance’, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, von Stumm et al say, “intellectual curiosity was demonstrated to constitute a meaningful addition to the traditional set of predictors of academic performance. In fact, both Conscientiousness and intellectual curiosity influenced academic performance to the same extent as intelligence.”
- How to develop it: To encourage your child to be curious, find out his interests and allow him to pursue his passions; read stories together with your child and ask him how he thinks the story would end; ask open-ended questions like what he thinks about one of your ideas or how he might want to improve something.
7. Optimism: The ability to adapt to different situations, have positive expectations for the future, adopt a healthy lifestyle are all the hallmarks of optimism. As a result, optimism is closely related to success in every walk of life. In their article, ‘Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being’, published in Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, Conversano et al say that, ”Through an adaptive management of personal goals and development and by using active coping tactics, optimists are significantly more successful than pessimists in aversive events and when important life-goals are impaired.”
- How to develop it: To teach your child to be optimistic, you need to make her understand that change is the essence of life, and that changes happen for the better. Validate your child’s emotions and use phrases instil a sense of hope — for example, “Things will turn out well” or “You have the ability to do better.” Teach your child problem-solving skills and tackle problems with calmly.
While education is important to get ahead in life, learning behavioural traits that can mould your child into a well-rounded individual is also vital. So, make sure that you help your child develop these five traits, which will help him not just in his childhood but throughout life.
*Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.
#Vijayalakshmi, counselling psychologist
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