Back to basics: The importance of character building

By Beverley Nah


KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — With our education system focusing mostly on academic achievements, parents are doing all they can to provide the best — be it academic or non-academic — headstart for their children.

They are sending their children — from as young as six months old — to child development centres and different types of classes and activities in hopes of developing their child’s potential. One wonders though if all this is enough or too much? What about the development of a child’s character? Isn’t that equally, if not even more, important?

Most of us were brought up in a simpler manner without all the activities and gadgets that are widely available to children these days. We were taught to make do with our limited resources, using our imagination to create our own little worlds.

Fast forward to today’s world where children are constantly competing against one another. Even parents themselves are competing against each other at the expense of their own children, comparing grades and types of activities and classes that their children go to. With so much on their plate, have you ever wondered how these children cope with the amount of pressure they come under?

If we take a moment to reflect upon our childhood, what wisdom did our parents impart on us that helped us get to where we are right now? The answer usually goes back to building character. If that part is true, then shouldn’t we go back to the basics with our children?

There is really no right or wrong answer to this. It is how you want your child to grow up and the type of person that you want your child to be. Every child is different with different temperament, needs and abilities, hence their ability to absorb and understand what you are teaching them varies as well.

Study your child and understand the type of person he or she is and decide the best way to guide him/her. At the end of the day, your child is a product of your upbringing coupled with the constant changes of the environment they are in.

To give you an example, my younger sister and I are as different as day and night even though we were brought up by the same pair of parents. This happens because of our ability to understand our parents’ teaching differently, hence leading us to practise it in a different manner.

At the same time, due to the different characteristics that we both have, our parents used different methods to teach us the basics that they deemed were necessary and important.

Consequently, with an age gap of five years, my sister tends to be more laidback and carefree, living in her little bubble whereas I’m the complete opposite, a perfectionist who is detail-oriented. As a whole, what matters most is that our parents embrace our imperfections and bring out the best in the both of us.

In the next article, I will discuss how we can instil strength of character in our children.


  1. Listen to you child. Encourage and help your child to express him/herself. You’ll be surprised to learn that your child has a lot more to say to you than you expect.
  2. Encourage your child to try as many things as possible, be it food, clothes, activities and others. Be as positive as you can with your child, once you show your fear, your child will feel it too.
  3. Remember, every child is different. One method of teaching does not necessary work for every child. You have to be creative and find different methods that work for every child.
  4. Do at least a 10-minute activity with your child each day. Even if you are tired or exhausted after a long day’s work, do a more relaxing activity together with your child. That 10 minutes will not only take your mind away from the daily stress but it will enhance the bond between you and your child.

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