“What if the secret to success is failure?” This question was asked in a recent New York Times article discussing how two schools in New York City are beginning to teach and measure (yes that’s right, they’re grading) character in students. New studies show that students who succeed in higher education are not necessarily those with the best grades. Instead, the students most likely to succeed in college are those who are most resilient and exhibit stronger character strengths such as adaptability, respect and compassion.

That means that a student might get a bad grade on an exam, but the real concern is how they bounce back from that experience. Are they honest with their parents about it? Do they accept responsibility for it? Will they take steps to do better next time? These are the traits some educators now think might be more important for long-term success in life.

So what can we do as parents to help build character at home? And how can we help our schools address it as well? Check out the following resources we found online:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a great online series called The 7 Cs of Coping with Life. “Character” is on the list, along with traits including “Confidence” and “Coping.” Check it out here for a description of each as well as tips for raising kids who have “the Cs.”
  • The book Teaching Kids to Care also has a website with great inspiration for character-teaching. We especially love their page on volunteering and why it can be so important for children.
  • The U.S. Department of Education offers a booklet on teaching kids about character, including a list of basic character traits and simple examples for parents to role model in daily life.
  • We also found a new organization called WINGS in Charleston, S.C., using character education as a way to change the lives of children through after school programs. (Be sure and watch their fabulous video above to hear some of their students reciting their “Character Creed”!)
  • Keeping the lines of communication open–both with your child and their teachers–is critical for school success of any kind. Check out our Parent Resource Center pages on Positive Communication and Parent-Teacher Relationships for more support and ideas.

Do you have a specific character-related experience with your own child? Struggling with how to teach character, or have a great idea to share with other families? Post it here!

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