BEE HEARD: Good character builds resiliency in our youth

Photo Credit: Native Connections

What is a good character and how does it build resiliency? Some traits of good character can be things such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, and fortitude. These virtues characterize good behavior that can influence the choices we make in our lives, especially for young people. When young people are taught at an early age the meaning of these traits, allowed to practice each trait, and then be recognized for them, they start to build a strong foundation of who they want to be.  

When young people learn good behavior, they make better choices as they go through life. So, we must help young people learn what these good behaviors are and encourage them to make healthy positive choices. When they make healthy choices, they are less likely to use substances and less likely to experience a mental health crisis.  

How do we as parents, family, or adults build good character in youth? 

Building good character in youth takes time and it doesn’t happen overnight. There are many people and influences inside and outside the home that can build and shape your youth. Here are some tips on how to teach character, based on what The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center’s “A Family’s Guide to Teaching Good Character” calls T.E.A.M. 

TEACH children that their Character Counts: We must teach our children about the Six Pillars of Character, what each Pillar means, and what it looks like and does not look like in action. 

ENCOURAGE the Six Pillars of Character: Reward good behavior (usually praise is enough) and discourage bad behavior by imposing fair and consistent consequences. 

ADVOCATE Character: Continually encourage children to live up to the Six Pillars of Character by explaining and showing why demonstrating the Pillars matters. 

MODEL Good Behavior: Everything you say and do (or neglect to do) sends a message about your values. Be sure that these messages reinforce your lessons about doing the right thing, even when it is difficult. When you slip, be accountable; apologize sincerely, and do better. What are the Six Pillars of Character? 

The Six Pillars of Character are: 

  • Trustworthiness 
  • Respect 
  • Responsibility 
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

We can all agree that these traits are important to our community and our values, something we can all get behind. There are more traits that you can add but these have been proven to support good choices by building good behaviors within young people.  

How do we use this tool in our home?  

By using “A Family’s Guide to Teaching Good Character” you can use a variety of ways to teach character to the youth in your life. Here are some ways to do that: (1) Pick which Pillar of Character you want to focus on that month, (2) introduce the pillar to your youth, (3) refer to the guide for ideas on how to teach, encourage, advocate, and model that pillar, and (4) have a discussion with your youth about different scenarios and questions they might have around that pillar.  

For example, let’s use the Trustworthiness Pillar. We would want to use T.E.A.M. to TEACH our youth about being trustworthy, ENCOURAGE them by talking about times in your life and theirs too, when it was hard to be honest, or keeping promises and why it mattered, ADVOCATING by talking to them about how honesty builds trust and how trust impacts our relationships, and last but not least, MODEL good behavior by doing what you said you would do. Some ways to get the discussion started could be asking them how lying can break trust, or what makes an adult trustworthy, or what could we do better or differently to be more trustworthy?  

Want to learn more? For more information about “A Family’s Guide to Teaching Good Character” check out This guide is a project of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University. A Family’s Guide to Teaching Good Character introduces families to the Six Pillars and provides ideas for adults to help teach good character in the home, school, and community. CHARACTER COUNTS! and the Six Pillars of Character are trademarks of the Josephson Institute of Ethics. 

You can also reach out to the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division to request a digital copy of the guide to help you build up your skills and tools for raising or working with young people.   

Want to help and be a part of the change? WE NEED YOU! We are looking for community members and youth to join the Prevention Coalition tasked to reduce youth substance usage, eliminate mental health stigma, and start the discussion around suicide and prevention.  

  • Upcoming Prevention Coalition Meetings: We are going virtual! For more information please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-2487.  
  • Upcoming Training: FREE online Suicide Prevention Training- Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) for Southern Ute Tribe Employees, and Southern Ute Tribal Members. Let’s all learn the warning signs and what to do if someone is experiencing a crisis. Please contact Precious Collins at 970-563-2487 or email to sign up. 
  • Upcoming Community Events: The Southern Ute Native Connections Program along with the Southern Ute Education Department are teaming up to present to you the Virtual Youth Talking Circles! Peer support system for Native American Youth in 9-12 grade. Meeting dates and times to be determined. Each youth participant will receive a gift card for The Rose Café.  

Why a virtual talking circle for youth? It’s been a tough year and we want to support our Native American Youth by providing a relaxed and informal space to come and chat about what’s going on, or whatever is on your mind. Our GOAL is to support you in living a happy and healthy life.  

To register or for more information, please contact Stephanie Garcia at or Lisa Pratchett at  


  • Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division: NEW LOCATION AND PHONE NUMBER! 4101 CR 222 Durango, CO 970-563-5700. For local Native Americans. We are here to support mental health, substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery. Please call to schedule an appointment to talk to someone.   
  • Southern Ute Division of Social Services: 116 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-2331 for local Native Americans needing assistance with child welfare needs and family support.  
  • Southern Ute Police Department: Anonymous Tip Hotline Do you have information about a crime? Please call 970563-4999. This “Tip Line” was designed to allow you the ability to provide law enforcement with information, anonymously if need be, regarding criminal, drug, or suspicious activity. The “Tip Line” is monitored around the clock by SUPD Investigators, but it DOES NOT replace 9-1-1 or the non-emergency police number (970) 563-4401. 
  • St Ignatius Catholic Church: Pastor Cesar Arras, 14826 CO-172, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4241. 
  • Ignacio Community Church: Pastor Randall Haynes 405 Browning Ave, Ignacio, CO 970-759-3633  
  • Second Wind Fund of the Four Corners: Believes that every child and youth at risk of suicide should have access to the mental health treatment they need. We match children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities, 720-962-0706. 
  • Women’s Resource Center: Creates personal, social, and professional growth opportunities for all women in La Plata County, 970-247-1242. 


  • 24/7 Axis Crisis Line – SW Colorado: 970-247-5245 or Text 741741 
  • Colorado Crisis Line: 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Has both an online chat and a 24/7 phone line at 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking of suicide or need help for a loved one. 
  • The Trevor Project: Which seeks to serve LGBT youth, has a 24/7 suicide prevention line at 866-488-7386. 



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