How Parents Can Help Moral Development in Children

Moral development shapes your child's decision-making process. His experiences from birth help mold the morals he eventually develops. As his parent, you play a significant role in instilling the morals that you feel are valuable. From honesty and respect to generosity and kindness, your parenting techniques can help shape your little one into a moral adult.

Display Morals

Your own behavior is a powerful teacher for your child. As his parent, your actions teach your child the morals you value. It's easy to say you value morals such as:

  • honesty
  • respect
  • loyalty
  • kindness
  • forgiveness
  • but if you don't put those values into practice in your daily life you can't expect your child to learn them

That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. You're allowed a few slip-ups, but you should work toward truly living the morals you want your child to display. The other role models in his life, such as caregivers and friends, should also embody the traits you feel are essential.

Create a Moral Environment

The way your home and family operates affects the type of morals your child develops. If you want your child to value people instead of possessions, steer the emphasis away from material things. Spend time playing with your kids or serving the community as a family. Limit screen time for the whole family. When you do turn on the TV, choose shows that back up the morals you want to teach. Showing respect to family members and expecting it in return supports a moral environment.

Parent With Morals

The way you treat your child, from everyday tasks to discipline, affects his moral development. A child who is treated with insensitivity lacks a connection with others and may lack a solid moral foundation that helps him make decisions, according to Ask Dr. Sears 1. Showing empathy toward your child when he is upset teaches him to empathize with others. Disciplining in a respectful, loving way teaches him right from wrong without compromising the morals you want him to learn. For example, instead of screaming and cursing at your child, use a calm but stern voice to discipline him. Giving your child responsibilities around the house also contributes to his moral development, according to the Ohio State University Extension 2.

Use Real-life Situations

No matter how hard you work to model morals, your child is likely to see some poor examples. A young child's behaviors often fail to meet certain morals. He might hide the truth about how a toy broke. He may have trouble sharing. When you see these behaviors -- from your child or from others -- use the situation as a learning opportunity. Use the conversation to help your child understand the consequences of immoral behavior. For example, if he disrespects his friend by taking his favorite toy without permission and accidentally breaking it, his friend will feel sad or angry.

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