5 Stages Of Moral Development In Children

As parents, you always want your children to understand the difference between right and wrong and make the right choices. The environment that your children see at home, school and in the neighborhood, and the emotional, cognitive, physical and social skills determine the development of their senses of right and wrong.

Your child needs to have a solid foundation in each of the developmental stages to become a morally strong person.

You may educate them to read, write and develop strong academic skills. Additionally, teaching them to become compassionate and caring is also important to help develop their moral capabilities.

Here is a quick look at how your child’s moral development takes place through different ages:

1. From Birth To 2 Years:

Infants do not have the ability to moralize. Their sense of right and wrong depends on their feelings and desires.

  • Hunger and loneliness is an uncomfortable feeling for your infant at this stage and thus it feels wrong.
  • Being cuddled and fed feels right for your infant because it makes them happy.

2. 2 Years To 3 Years:

At this age, your toddler realizes that others have rights and needs as well. However, he is yet to grasp the difference between right and wrong.

  • Your toddler knows that it is wrong to take away a toy from a sibling, as he might land himself into trouble.
  • While he may not understand why hitting someone is wrong, he knows that he will be punished for doing that.
  • Your toddler tends to follow rules to avoid being punished.

3. 3 Years To 7 Years:

This is the age when your child begins to understand about family values.

  • Since rules and norms are important to the family; they become important for your child too.
  • Your child expects you to take charge.
  • He follows rules not out of fear of being punished, but because he knows it is expected from him.
  • When punished, your child will feel bad that he could not live up to others’ expectations.

4. 7 Years To 10 Years:

By the time your child turns 7, he will realize that the people holding authoritative positions are not perfect.

  • Your child will start understanding about values and consider morality as a social contract where he is expected to obey rules.
  • Your child will develop a strong sense of what he should and should not do.

5. Adolescents:

The age group from 10 to 11 falls under the category of early adolescence.

  • Your adolescent will expand his moral horizon and consider them as a set of social guidelines to benefit all.
  • Even though he will value rules, he will find them negotiable.
  • If your adolescent is above 11 years, he will start realizing that the decision he takes affect others around him.
  • Your teen, in his or her endeavor to become popular, may engage in activities that are morally incorrect, while being very well aware of what is right and wrong.

Parents’ Role in Moral Development Of Children:

You can find plenty of theories circulating about morality development in children. However, it is believed that children learn morality from the people they are closest to.

  • As parents, you play a pivotal role in helping develop morality among your children by showering them with love and appreciation.
  • Your child must be motivated to act within the acceptable norms.
  • Identification and acknowledgement of the emotions in the early stages will help your child know you empathize with him.
  • Praise your child whenever he acts positively and demonstrates moral correct behaviors. This will help him know the behaviors expected from him.

Childhood education must address the importance of moral development in children. Your children look up to you and follow you closely.

Be careful to preach what you practice and help them distinguish between the right and wrong.

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