Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, joined a team of 55 international researchers in 2001, to ask the question: “How can we help young people realise their full potential?” This led to research in what makes life worth living, how we experience a richer life, how we reach optimal well-being and how we can become the best version of ourselves. Thus followed three years of research, which resulted in the identification of the 24 character strengths used by mankind.

This series of blogs helps you understand the 24 scientifically proven character strengths, which help mankind’s wellbeing and quality of life across the globe.


Prudence is one of those funny, old-fashioned words – it’s not heard very often and has been a little bit forgotten when we talk about strength of character. Actually, prudence is a great character trait. If your child is prudent, they have the skills to look ahead and make wise, thoughtful choices. It sounds a lot like wisdom doesn’t it? But while wisdom is a big part of prudence, prudence itself contains a lot more than just wisdom. Prudence is concerned with looking at all of the facts, then measuring them up using a bit of wisdom. It can also mean looking for possible problems or consequences and then doing not necessarily what is the easiest option, but what is wisest and best.
People who have the strength of prudence:
  • think before they act or talk
  • are careful and sensible, and can decide on complex issues, because they see a long-term result
  • exhibit good judgment and don’t upset anyone
  • are sensible and do not always pick the easy solution

We can teach our children how to be prudent, even though this characteristic often goes against their normal childhood tendencies of acting quickly on impulse, and being led by feelings and emotions. Here are five ways to foster prudence in your child:
  • Take Time. Though there are lots of simple, repetitive decisions that can probably be made quickly and without much thought, your child should understand that important decisions shouldn’t be made immediately, in the heat of the moment, if it can be avoided. Teach your child that when important decisions need to be made, it’s a good idea to count to five and think things through instead of reacting immediately. Think one – is this important? Think 2 – what do I already know about this? Think three – who could I ask for some advice? Think 4 – am I sure? Is this right? Think five – make the decision.
  • Take Advice. Teach your child that they don’t have to do things on their own. Teach them that they have a network of people around them who they might ask for advice and, really importantly, that asking for advice is a positive thing. Asking for other’s people opinion, before you make a big decision, only makes you stronger and more informed. However, along with this, always teach that any advice should come from people that they trust – a teacher, a parent, a grandparent… and that lots of people have opinions that might not be sound.
  • Think Ahead. I had one grandparent (always negative, always ‘glass-half-empty’) who would say – “You could do that, but on your own head be it.” Helpful huh?! You CAN help your child learn how to evaluate the possible outcomes of their decisions, without scaring them to death! Teach them to think about the consequences of their decisions – what could go wrong and how much risk there is if those things actually DO happen. We shouldn’t be over-emphasising risks and scaring our child into inaction, but we do need to help them understand that from time to time, our decisions can have consequences if things don’t go the way we hope they will.
  • Learn From Mistakes. Decision making can be a bit of a minefield, can’t it? It’s so very important that we pass on to our children the importance and value of problem-solving. At the same time, we need to make them aware that we all make mistakes, that it’s inevitable, but that’s very OK. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about – and in fact, it helps us learn, so that’s a real positive.
  • Be Aware Of Feelings. It’s good, when making decisions, to be aware of our feelings. It’s also important that we teach our children that our feelings aren’t always the greatest indication of what might be either a wise or a poor choice. We might be tempted to go with a ‘gut feeling’ or something that ‘feels right’ or ‘feels wrong,’ but it’s generally best to be cautious of these feelings. If we continue to look at any information and advice that we’ve been given and use caution around our feelings – then that is very prudent!

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