Will "character training" be the next parenting trend?

The discussion of developing children’s non-cognitive skills, also known as character, seems to be cropping up everywhere these days, not just as an antidote to the Rug Rat Race. Last week's episode of This American Life covered exactly this topic: the role of resilience, adaptability, persistence, self control in acheivement, and featured much of the work behind Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed. Find the pod cast here.

While the This American Life coverage focuses on economic and policy implications of developing children's character, I wonder how it will alter the parenting landscape in the suburbs where I live. Will it lead to a rebellion against the drilling and coaching and pushing and prepping, inciting parents to wantonly unschool their children? Will it drive parents to incorporate adversity into their children's lives, having their children walk to school in the snow, sit through long, boring meals, or (gasp!) make their own beds? Of course, the most likely scenario is that it will spawn a new generation of books, seminars, and classes on how to build character in your children. This change would probably be a positive development, all around, assuming families don't pursure "character building" with the myopic intensity typically applied to math drills, early reading and youth sports. I shudder to imagine strip mall franchises designed to teach our children "character" in 45 minutes classes. So convenient, if you can manage to squeeze it in between gymnastics and math tutoring. Kumon for character, anyone? 

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