Promoting CHARACTER STRENGTHS: Safe, Supportive Homes & Communities
Updated: Mar 20
There are many benefits to living in homes and communities where we feel safe and supported. And the content of our character is an important component for creating and maintaining such a place. Our ‘character’ is comprised of our values, attitudes, and behaviors that guide how we interact with others. These 'character strengths' help us to act in ways that are prosocial (actions that benefit others).
Character strengths have been linked to many positive outcomes, including better interpersonal skills, more social connections, better physical health, better psychological functioning, academic/educational achievements, occupational/career advancements, and more resilient responses to life stressors. Our personal relationships, homes, schools, and work settings are all safer and more positive when guided by character strengths.
Let’s take a look at a few of these influential character strengths, which we can teach our children and model in our everyday lives.
Being compassionate, respectful, and helpful towards others is a valuable character quality. Kindness can also be directed towards our self (i.e., good self-care, including sleep, exercise, nutrition, leisure activities) and our natural environment (i.e., reusing, recycling, and utilizing alternative energy). All forms of kindness lead to good outcomes when practiced within our homes and within our community interactions with unique and diverse people.
We all experience a wide range of emotions, including happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. All these emotions are normal and adaptive when we regulate well enough to avoid extreme, maladaptive responses. Teaching our children self-control strategies can help them lead fulfilling lives and avert many negative outcomes. These strategies include deep breathing exercises, self-timeouts, positive self-talk, thought substitution, help-seeking behaviors (asking others for support), and learning how to respond assertively, as opposed to aggressively or passively. Good self-regulation is an essential character strength.
Being truthful is another character strength to teach and model for our children. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. It is a genuine strength when children and adults are honest, take responsibility, and learn from their mistakes. ‘Honesty’ is an attribute that seems to be deteriorating in recent years among some of our public leaders and social media outlets. We as community members must be informed consumers regarding the information we take in and always consider the content and source of the material. We must ask important questions (i.e., What do you mean? and How do you know?) to ensure we are receiving accurate information. If we want safe, prosocial communities; credible, fact-based journalism is vital. And raising children who value honesty and are critical thinkers is essential.
Being humble is another valuable character strength; that is, the ability to take pride in who you are and what you do, but without acting arrogant or superior to others. Humility is an especially important attribute for our community leaders. Humble leaders are open to considering others’ ideas and perspectives. They use their influence to empower and better the lives of others, rather than to benefit themselves.
When we practice and model 'character strengths' in our roles as, parents, teachers, human service providers, supervisors, government officials, news media executives, journalists, and social media users, we all reap the benefits.
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