Character is the set of attributes in an individual including presence or lack of virtues, which makes him/her unique. It is shaped by the individual experiences to which a person is exposed to, especially during their childhood phase.
Family is the first social organization that provides the immediate proximity from which the child learns to socialize. It affects the development of one’s character in the following ways:
• Children imitate their parents and therefore can absorb the traits of their parents’ personalities e.g. a male child born in a patriarchal family has higher chances of developing prejudice against women.
• Children learn from the experiences of the family members and try to inculcate the virtues which are cherished e.g. hard work, honesty, or bravery shown by parents or grand-parents in the past.
• Presence of siblings and their behaviour also shape the character of a child e.g. higher number of siblings may lead to sibling rivalry and jealousy but also provide positive types of complementary exchanges, such as helping, and caregiving interactions.
• The social status or economic condition of a family also influences the character building e.g. those born in affluence may become extravagant or proud of their stature.
• Virtues such as sharing, compassion, empathy, trust-worthiness, etc. develop when there is an environment of love and care in the family.

Other than family, children spend most of their time at educational institutions while growing up.
These institutions also develop a person’s character in following ways:
• Teachers play an important role in making the child aware about what is wrong and what is right e.g. through correcting wrong habits or rewarding the right ones. They also act as role models and influence the children through their own behaviour.
• The environment of the school where children are not judged on the basis of caste, religion or sex helps in imparting the qualities of equality, brotherhood and rationality.
• School curriculum and examination pattern play a crucial role in the development of scientific temper, attitude of hard work and professionalism.
• Sports and other activities inculcate cooperative spirit, responsibility, trust, respect for opponents, living by rules, channelising anger in a constructive way, etc.
• Educational institutions also help a child interact with other children of different age-groups in a controlled environment. This helps a child in socialising, making friends, understanding behaviours of others and getting sensitised towards diverse groups and issues which eventually help in building the character of the child.
A person’s character is largely shaped by the socio-cultural setting in which he/she grows up. Therefore, the parental oversight during formative years and value-based education are two essential criteria for the development of a good human being/citizen.


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