Abstract Character strengths could effectively prevent negative psychological outcomes in adults. However, there was little research conducted among early adolescents. The present study aimed to explore character strengths that were independently related to fewer behavior problems in early adolescents. In total, 521 early adolescents (mean age 10.92 ± 0.04, range 10–12 years) were recruited from primary schools in Sichuan, China. Character strengths were measured using the Values in Action Inventory of Strengths for Youth (VIA-Youth). Behavior problems were measured using the Conners Parent Symptom Questionnaire (PSQ). The results showed that behavior problems were negatively correlated with character strengths ( r = −0.14 to −0.3, p < 0.05 Bonferroni corrected). Character strengths explained a significant proportion of additional variance (14–22%) in five types of behavior problems after controlling the effect of demographic factors (residence, left-behind experiences, maternal education level). Moreover, several specific character strengths showed an independent contribution ( β = −0.34 to −0.14 for self-regulation, perseverance, zest, humility, and leadership; β = 0.21 to 0.34, for hope; all p < 0.05) to behavior problems. Our study revealed that character strengths were protective factors against behavior problems in early adolescents.