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Character Counts!

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a nationwide character education program administered by Josephson Institute and the Center for Youth Ethics. Michael Josephson, founder and president of the nonprofit Josephson Institute, has presented to government officials, business leaders, educators, and professionals in sports, and other business and military sectors. Mr. Josephson has a radio program and serves as commentator on character and ethics.
At the high schools, the Josephson Institute’s program for sportsmanship, Victory with Honor, is utilized by coaches and teammates. Students involved in sports are very mindful of the Six Pillars of Character during team practices and games. Their coaches instill its importance in everything they do. For learning in the classroom, Honor above All, addresses academic honesty. Students focus on the six traits of character as guiding pillars in their academic learning.


Trustworthiness Fairness
Respect Responsibility
Caring Citizenship
CHARACTER COUNTS! and the Six Pillars of Character are service marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.


One of the Six Pillars of Character is Trustworthiness. Here are some of the trustworthy behaviors we will be focusing on at school.
  • Be honest
  • Stand up for what you believe in.
  • Keep your word.
  • Return what you borrow.
  • Keep promises.
  • Be your best.
You can be watching for these positive behaviors in your child. When you see trustworthiness in action, show your appreciation through a compliment.
A great way to teach your child about this character trait is to discuss the trustworthiness of people in the news. This is a wonderful way to talk about current events as well as popular people’s images. What do the words and actions of movie stars, musicians, politicians, and other public figures say about their character? Are they trustworthy?


One of the Six Pillars of Character is Respect. Here are some of the ways Respect is shown:
  • Courtesy
  • Politeness
  • Appreciation of individual differences
  • Respecting others’ rights
At home, your whole family can work on being more polite and courteous to one another. Often people “forget their manners” around those with whom they are most familiar. When you raise the standards in this area, you’ll be pleased at the change.

You might also focus on the unique qualities of your family members. Each day during meal time, for example, you might all name a good trait for one person. For example, “Dad is a good storyteller. He makes me laugh. I like Dad’s pancakes.” By focusing on what each person does well, you are appreciating that person’s unique abilities. This idea can be carried outside the home, helping children to see that people who are different from you and your family have unique abilities to be admired and respected.
Have fun practicing Respect!


One of the Six Pillars of Character is Responsibility. We will be working on being reliable, setting a good example for others, and doing our best. A good way to reinforce responsibility at home is to give your child chores or tasks to do. The goal is to have children complete their work on their own, without reminders from you, and on time. When you assign responsibilities to family members, be sure the task is understood and a time frame for getting it done is clear. You might need to check on progress from time to time, especially if the job is a new one.
It is a great idea to plan with your child a regular schedule for him or her to use in completing homework and other school or extracurricular activities. Often students need a structure and a time frame in which to complete their responsibilities on their own.
Responsibility also can include having self-control, choosing to have a positive attitude, and being persistent.


Fairness is one of the Six Pillars of Character. At school we will be talking about ways to promote Fairness, such as:
  • Be open-minded.
  • Listen to others.
  • Try to understand what others are saying and feeling.
  • Be careful making judgments about others.
  • Be consistent.
  • Treat people equally and equitably.
When you hear the age-old whine, “It’s not fair!” from your child, ask him or her what is unfair about the situation. In talking through these problems, you can teach a good lesson on what Fairness is.


One of the Six Pillars of Character is Caring. We will be showing that we care about one another at school through kindness, sharing, compassion, and helpfulness. We will be remembering to treat others as we would like to be treated.
You and your family can show kindness at home by giving each other anonymous ‘secret buddy’ notes, doing small chores as a surprise for others, and family members can ‘catch’ each other in the act of kindness.
Being charitable is another way of demonstrating Caring. Together as a family, you could select a group, a cause, or a needy individual to help. Putting other people’s needs in front of your own, is a good way to show that you care about them!


One of the Six Pillars of Character is citizenship. Here are some of the ways good citizenship is shown:
  • Play by the rules.
  • Obey laws, and respect authority.
  • Do your share of the work.
  • Be charitable, and help by volunteering your time.
  • Be good neighbors.
  • Protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
It would be wonderful if your family could discuss ways to be a good citizen. A way for your child to practice citizenship would be through following family rules, school rules, and game rules. Volunteering to help others and taking care of the environment are ways to show good citizenship. Perhaps you can recycle more, plant trees on special occasions, or participate in litter cleanup projects.
You can also set family goals for citizenship. Each member of the family should complete the following sentence and post it where it can serve as a reminder: I will be a good citizen by ____________________________. (Sample goals: …by recycling aluminum, glass, and newspapers, …by volunteering to do an extra chore,…following the rules at school.)
Have fun practicing good citizenship!