“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world.”
What is strength of character?
I have been thinking about strength of character and what it actually means and how do we build it in ourselves and our children?
Strength of character is what we are when we are facing difficulties. If we are able to behave with maturity, kindness and understanding even while we are going through a tough time ourselves, can we say we have strength of character. Our character is not changing based on how we are feeling.
How do we build strength of character?
Can this come easily? Can a child have this strength right from the start? I don’t think so.
A child learns this just as he learns anything else in his life – with practice and modeling by others around him. If we, as adults, struggle to behave with maturity when we are upset, children can hardly do it themselves.
So how do we build it in ourselves? How can we help others build theirs so that our children will always have good models to emulate?
To build it in ourselves, we first need to be aware of our feelings and our behaviour. We have to be responsible for our own behaviour and its impact on others. We have to plan how we will behave the next time we feel a particular negative emotion. We will have to forgive our own misgivings and move forward because we are imperfect and we will make mistakes.
Telling someone to be strong in adversity hardly works, when they are feeling otherwise; but being there for someone with kindness, compassion and empathy can do wonders. They can feel that the world is a friendly place. A place where no one will judge them for feeling weak and unknowing. These people will then be able to extend the same kindness to others in need of it; and this way, strength of character will be built in adults all around us.
Children will see more people who have it all figured out and will feel safe and secure. Will this mean children will not have meltdowns or behave inappropriately? No. Children will have to practice overcoming disappointment, anger, jealousy and every other negative emotion before they have this strength and this will take their whole childhood to master and only if the world is such a place for them!
Until then, we just keep trying.
Anjum is one of the founders of Lodestar Montessori School. She wishes that everyone discovers Montessori the way she did. She lives in Singapore with her husband and son.