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  • Top PH Educator Says We Need To Care Less About Our Kids Being 'Academically Gifted'

    "Children need their parents to tell them what’s right and wrong until they're 12 years old."
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Top PH Educator Says We Need To Care Less About Our Kids Being 'Academically Gifted'
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  • Building good character among children does not happen overnight. It takes time, consistency (and repetition), wisdom, and modeling on the part of the parents. Being with our children 24/7 during this pandemic gives us an opportune time to plant the seeds of good character traits and see it blossom over time.

    “Character matters because it becomes your destiny,” says educator and SmartParenting.com.ph contributor Maricar Gustilo-de Ocampo during her Facebook Live session titled “How to Build Good Character in Kids.”

    “It is important to have positive and affirming thoughts and start building good character while the child is young,” says de Ocampo.

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    The talk was a peek of Parenting 2.0: Becoming the Teacher Your Child Needs, a weekly expert-led online subscription series for parents, teachers, and counselors on child education, mental health, and family life. It is intended for parents who are struggling with homeschooling their children and is hosted by de Ocampo and her sister, psychologist Dr. Dido Villasor.

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    The bigger question she poses, however, is how do we make sure our children will do good things for the world and for others?

    “As parents and teachers, we need to teach our children to know who they are,” says de Ocampo. When children have reached this point, they can own their values, opinions, and beliefs; think and learn in unique ways; develop their own personality; and have special interest, talents, dreams, and desires.

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    Performance and moral character

    A school environment is a great place to foster character, especially when it comes to performance character and moral character, according to de Ocampo. The former refers to qualities that enable an individual to achieve his highest potential in any performance environment. Moral character consists of qualities that will allow one to be his ‘ethical best’ in relationships and roles as citizens.

    De Ocampo says performance character “is giving your best in whatever you are good at” through qualities like initiative, self-discipline, perseverance, or teamwork. Moral character, on the other hand, involves values such as honesty, humility, fairness, and respect in relating to people and in working on the process of reaching your goals.

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    A school that integrates both “make great schools,” de Ocampo says. “We need to care less about whether our children are academically gifted, and more about whether they sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria.”

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    How to develop your child's moral character

    Since much of school will now happen online and done in the confines of our homes, de Ocampo says there is a need to focus on the children’s social, emotional, and mental well-being. Raising children with character addresses these crucial aspects, and de Ocampo enumerates ways on how this can be done in the home:

    Be an authoritative parent

    “You are a parent first before a teacher,” de Ocampo says. She also stresses that parents need to love themselves first “so the tank will be full.”

    Teach by example

    “Children are the best [detectives] of attitudes.” They can tell if something is not right.

    Give children limits

    In teaching character, parents should not always adjust to everything their children want. They must learn to set boundaries, says Villasor, who gives this advice from her perspective as a psychologist. At the same time, manage the moral environment by giving children limits.

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    Teach good judgment

    “When you make decisions, show them how you weigh the pros and cons,” says de Ocampo. This way, the child will learn how to make decisions and choose the right one when he grows up.

    Discipline wisely

    “Use positive discipline and avoid physical punishment.” Solve conflicts fairly. If siblings are fighting, listen to both sides, and resolve peacefully, suggests de Ocampo.

    Provide opportunities to practice virtues

    Foster spiritual development and create habits of the heart, soul, and spirit. “Do activities that will emphasize the time to be kind, to share, to listen, to help,” says de Ocampo, adding that having a good meal together is an excellent time to talk about good virtues.

    “Children need their parents to tell them what’s right and what’s wrong until 12 years of age. You formulate the conscience in the first 12 years of life and beyond that sila na.”

    There is no time to waste given this time-frame because, as it is often said, “the kids grow up so fast.” As parents take on teacher roles in this new normal, building good character in children becomes just as — if not more — important as being good in academics.

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