Definition of Moral Development

By Naima Manal
Image by, courtesy of delta16v

Many parents want to raise their children to be of good moral values. Morality is a critical part of human development, the essence of which dictates how well a person functions in society with others.


Moral development fosters positive qualities of character, personality and behavior in children. According to Psychology Press, understanding the difference between right and wrong is the essence of moral development.


The basic focus of moral development is the enhancement of a child's ability to relate naturally to other people. This will help a child function well in society, with respect for others.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget was one of the first psychologists to explain that moral development in a child arises from her decision-making capabilities and quest to find fair and balanced solutions for the problems that face her.

Lawrence Kohlberg

Lawrence Kohlberg observed that experiences shape moral understanding of what is fair and just in the environment. Kohlberg extended his observations beyond childhood, demonstrating that people start with innate personal morals, develop a give-and-take with others, and then grow to understand the moral perspectives of others and of society at large.

Elliot Turiel

Elliot Turiel explained moral development from a comprehensive standpoint in his Domain Theory. He acknowledged that both morality and conventional elements make up moral development and that they mature in varying balances and degrees from person to person.


Morality levels and standards vary greatly from one region to another, defined by the religion and culture of local people. However, universal morality extends respect and honor to others without infringing upon basic rights--a concept commonly instilled in children at a very young age.

About the Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on various websites. Manal received her Bachelor of Science in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.