Building Good Character in Teens, and Why It Matters

boarding2Building Good Character in Teens, and Why It Matters

Teenagers have just a few short years before they leave for college and begin making a life for themselves. It is crucial for teens to develop good character so they can be mentally equipped to make wise, moral decisions and overcome any obstacles life throws their way.  Not only will they end up leading happier lives, they will end up leading more successful lives.

Good character does not happen on its own, however. It is the result of years of learned behavior as well as strong mentoring.

If you truly want your teen to become an upright individual, you need to make character development a priority. Read on to learn why character is so important and what you can do to build it.

What Is Good Character?

Below are just some of the words that would describe a man or woman with strong character: respectful, responsible, humble, brave, loyal, caring, reliable, honest, hard-working, helpful, fair, moral, confident, team player, persistent, positive, disciplined, level-headed and righteous.

Though there are hundreds of other descriptive words, character is simply ethics in action — or as J.C. Watts once said: “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.”

What words would you use to describe your teen? Do you believe your teen always does what is right rather than popular? Are there any character strengths you would like your teen to develop or strengthen?

Whether your teen just needs upkeep or a whole new foundation, it is worth building your child’s character because it will become your son or daughter’s most valuable asset.

Why Does Good Character Matter?

Becoming a man or woman people will admire, respect and trust is reason enough to develop excellent character. Good character truly does matter in life because the choices of today impact the future of tomorrow. Smart decisions have rewards, but poor decisions have consequences that can spoil future opportunities.

Strengthening your teen’s character will also position him or her for greater career advancement.

All companies and organizations want:

  • A reliable person with a strong work ethic and a commitment to quality.
  • A team player who respects others and helps others to achieve a greater goal.
  • A responsible man or woman who will make wise choices and hold him or herself accountable.
  • A moral individual who can be trusted with people and money.

Again, employers want people who will do the right thing when no one is looking. It is actually much easier to teach a job skill than it is to teach good character, which is why many companies/organizations follow this mantra: Hire for attitude. Train for skill.

Good character is of even greater importance to the self-employed. After all, no one wants to hire someone with a reputation for being unavailable or undependable, delivering shoddy work or cheating clients out of money.

Teens with grounded character also grow up to be the most responsible leaders in government and their communities.

In short, teaching teens key traits, such as responsibility, hard work and honesty, in their formative years will give them the best chance at lifelong success.

How to Build Good Character

When it comes to character development, actions speak louder than words. Teens will usually adopt the character traits, good or bad, that they observe the most from parents, teachers, friends and relatives.

Though you cannot control what others do, your everyday actions can teach your child integrity.

If you would like your son or daughter to care about others, then volunteer yourself. If you do not want your child to gossip, then do not spread it yourself. If your teen cheats on a test, hold him or her accountable by taking away privileges.

Understand that character development is a process, not a course. If you want your young adult to mature into an honorable person, follow four basic rules:

1) Teach the ethics and values that will guide their behavior early on.

2) Address and correct inappropriate behaviors and administer consequences for poor choices.

3) Set the example.

4) Repeat the above steps every day.

Also, if your son or daughter does not already belong to a Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts troop, sign him or her up. The whole purpose of these organizations is to instill time-honored values in young people who they can be prepared to make moral and ethical choices.

Your teen may not understand or appreciate what you are trying to instill in him or her, but your adult son or daughter just might thank you for it some day.

If you have a son and would like to see him develop the character he needs to succeed in college and in life, contact Marine Military Academy. The aim of this all-boys, college-preparatory boarding school in Texas is to inspire positive academic, physical and moral growth in every cadet. Call (956) 423-6006 or visit to learn more.