Insults, Smears and Character: A Quick Guide for Teens

It seems like every day our news is full of insults and ”smears” as the tension builds in the nation’s political arena. For this very reason, I thought it would be fun to find books covering clever and literary insults over time rather than the mundane political put-downs we're bombarded with today. Sharp and spontaneous disputes are almost like an art form, and targets of disrespectful slams are not always public officials or politicians.

While rudeness can be sometimes be humorous and attention-grabbing, true character means thinking, feeling and behaving responsibly and respectfully.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is one of my favorite character-building books for teens. It is chock-full of cartoons and great advice on turning setbacks into triumphs and listening and seeking to understand in order to be understood. It also has an extensive list of resources and recommending reading lists.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is available in other formats.

Great Group Skits offers some great role-playing opportunities to confront a situation that tests your character in a non-confrontational, often hilarious way. For instance, one skit covers the best way to offer a friend advice, and another presents a scenario testing how you would respond when a couple of people are being loud and obnoxious near you and your friends during a movie.

I'm also a big fan of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens. The author, Richard Carlson, has a huge series of "Don't Sweat It" books that really hone in on the message that life is full of small and big stresses, but you - and only you - are in control of how you handle and respond to them which is a pretty powerful reminder!

Character not only improves your communication skills, allowing you to get along with others and gain respect, but also impacts your well-being. At weekly teen programs across the city, role models and mentors can help you improve your character and build or further develop some of the best character traits out there such as caring, citizenship, responsibility, trustworthiness, respect and fairness. Embrace these mindsets and actions to make lasting positive effects on your life and community.

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