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Looking at Values:


Thinking About Being Moral

Definition: Your child relates to principles of right and wrong.
Behavior reflecting
the value:
His behavior would be consistent from one occasion to another. He could explain the rightness of his behavior.
Knowledge and
skills needed:
He knows the moral code by which he lives. He has the skills needed to analyze what he plans to do to determine if his plan follows his moral code.
Insights about the
To be able to integrate moral development into your parenting, you will need to define your and/or your society's moral code.
Value present
at birth?

Teaching or Preserving Being Moral
Baby: Your baby must be treated according to your and society's moral code. He will experience the code at this stage in life; he cannot yet comprehend it.

Your child is beginning to be expected to live up to parts of the moral code. For example, he is expected not to hit or bite other children and not to take toys away from others. You direct his behavior based on your moral code.

Your child can begin the first steps in problem solving (and thus living by a moral code) by learning that he has choices, by having the opportunity to make his own choices, and by experiencing the consequences of his choices.

School age/Teenage: At this age, your child can begin to understand the basic moral code and hold its abstract principles in mind as he decides how he will act. You need to provide time to discuss with him the issues he faces, to consider the moral implications as well as the consequences of choices he might make. This process of discussing the implications of the moral code is a serious part of adolescence. During this period young people are figuring out who they are and what kind of person they want to become. Establishing the moral code by which they will live is an important task of adolescence.

Influences on Learning to be Moral
Needs: Both a child's need to be loved and to understand will provide motivation for him to understand and to live by a moral code.
Temperament: If your child is impulsive and distractible, he will have difficulty focusing on the issue involved in a particular situation and monitoring his behavior accordingly.
Learning style: If your child is a strong visual learner, he will need discussions about moral living reinforced with a different mode of learning, perhaps by seeing a video or movie that reiterates the topic under discussion. If he is highly kinesthetic, role playing situations will help him internalize a code of behavior.

Reflections about Being Moral
Influence of other

Children need to be able to think through issues, so thoughtful decision making, problem solving, and curiosity are relevant.

Other values make up or define the moral code, such as being caring, honest, responsible, etc. You will know what these values are if you have defined your moral code.

New thinking
resulting from
It is impossible to chose "moral" as a value and instill it in your child if you have not thought through (defined) what your moral values actually are. This step cannot be avoided.

Adapted from Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to Be an Adult You Admire by Harriet Heath, Ph.D.

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Last updated May 05, 2008