Character Counts: Helping Your Child Navigate their Complex Roles During COVID

By Nelly Aguilar, Academy Director of Newport Mesa

Ask yourself. Amidst this pandemic, where has COVID left you…physically, emotionally, mindfully? Not only has COVID incited devastating tragedy, but it has also played with the minds and emotions of many…especially our youth. It is difficult enough dealing with the pangs and challenges of growing pains but now COVID has added a mask-ridden anxiety lifestyle to our children’s repertoire. Our youth now exist in a different world where their character development may be stymied due to the hiatus in society and nature of “regular life” as we know it.

How can we keep our children motivated and engaged when they are being told to stay home and when they have limited avenues of connection and social interaction? We can ask them to look within and use this time as introspection. The other day, out of the lips of a child, I heard, “2020 is the worst year ever…” While this year has been a challenge for many, especially those who have been personally affected by COVID, many are still fairing life as normal as possible with the exception of a few social changes. As adults we know that in times of trial and adversity, characters are often refined and defined. This is the ideal time to call on the attention of our youth and ask them to focus on their character.

In this day and age, we must ultimately understand that the character of our children is perhaps the most important, most urgent quality a parent must instill. Parents often worry about academic progress, homework, test performances, etc… As these are essential success factors for our children, we must also be concerned about the type of person that our children are becoming. Who are they? Who do they consider themselves to be? When no one is looking, does your child do the right thing? Is your child reflective about the way they treat others? What do they stand for or do they fall for anything? Sometimes, at our children’s whim, we give them everything they want, and why shouldn’t we? The world is a cold and unforgiving place and we want our time with them to be as loving and as nurturing as possible. But we also want to ensure we find a balance and we teach them about the different ways their character affects the world around them. The world is not only about them, no matter how precious they are to us. As a parent, it is our moral obligation to help our children develop their character.

Character is all about roles and how those roles are performed. Have each child analyze themselves. What different roles do they play? Have them consider the different aspects of their lives and the significant roles they play: son or daughter, sibling, friend, student, athlete, teammate, performer, artist, church member, neighbor, etc… 

Now have them make an evaluation of the roles they play to honestly assess how well they are meeting the expectations of each. Is each role barely meeting their expectation? Is there a role that needs more attention and energy? By doing a self-evaluation and by emphasizing the roles they play and how that affects the world around them–COVID or not, our children can honestly hold themselves accountable as they continue to develop their character of excellence.

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