Character strengths improve performance and well-being but are rarely studied among early childhood educators. This qualitative study describes how in-service early childhood educators (n = 17, United States) resolved workplace challenges following a character strength application intervention. During professional development, teachers learned to write action plans to use character strengths (e.g., perseverance, kindness) to address their challenges. Teachers reported a 71% success rate in fully or mostly resolving challenges using this method. Another 22% experienced partial success. This study documents how teachers matched character strengths to personal challenges with children, coworkers and parents. Teachers reported using certain strengths mostly with children (e.g., love, forgiveness), others mostly with adults (e.g., teamwork, bravery), and others universally (e.g., kindness, leadership). Teachers reported modeling or teaching character strengths to children in 31% of cases in which they were seeking to resolve some form of workplace challenge. Teachers perceived that the intervention made it more likely for them to model or teach character strengths to children, particularly kindness, forgiveness, social intelligence and teamwork. Educators and children are likely to benefit from professional development that explores the application of character strengths in the workplace.
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The frequencies of character strengths used by educators will be reported elsewhere, due to space limitations in the current paper.
The difficulty level of challenges (high, moderate, low), with examples and frequencies, is also being reported elsewhere due to space limitations.
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The authors wish to thank Dr. Ayana Allen-Handy for her helpful suggestions.
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Haslip, M.J., Donaldson, L. How Early Childhood Educators Resolve Workplace Challenges Using Character Strengths and Model Character for Children in the Process. Early Childhood Educ J 49, 337–348 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01072-2
- Character strengths
- Positive psychology
- Character education
- Early childhood education
- Social emotional learning