How to Teach Children Morals & Ethics

Raising your child so that she has good morals and ethics is not a challenge as long as you also have both. You are your child’s first example of what good character looks like, and by modeling it at all times your child is more likely to develop the same sense of right and wrong that you have. Doing this provides her with the platform to grow up to become the kind of person that makes you both proud.

Behave with morals and ethics at all times. According to Dr. Steven Reuben, author of the book, “Children of Character,” your job as a parent is to behave like the type of adult you want your children to become. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are a good example for your children, ask yourself if you want your children doing the same things as you are doing when they grow up. If not, change your own behavior so that you can positively shape theirs.

Use every opportunity to explain to your child why you believe in what you believe and why it is important to stand up for what you believe is right, advises Michelle Borba, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology and counseling 1. Throughout life your child may be exposed to situations and people who counter what you say and what you believe. Knowing exactly why you stand for something will help your child make an informed decision to continue on a path of good morals and ethics.

Show your child what it’s like to be on the opposite end of immoral and/or unethical behaviors, advises Michelle Borba. For example, if your child hits another child and makes her cry, ask your child to imagine herself in the other little girl’s situation. Now ask her how that makes her feel, what she would do in that situation and how she would feel about the person who caused her that pain. Seeing the negative effects of this type of behavior will help your child learn the importance of good character.

Know that every moment of everyday is a teaching moment when it comes to teaching your child good morals and ethics, advises Dr. Elizabeth Kiss, director of the Kenan Ethics Program at Duke University. Good morals and good ethics are not something you can teach your child in the same way you teach him to write his name or learn his multiplication table. For example, if you are watching a movie or reading a story together and one of the characters behaves immorally or unethically, use that moment to discuss the characters actions and behavior with your child so that she understands better what it’s like to behave morally and ethically rather than not.