Author Bio: Thanks to Ryan Howard for this article on how to develop moral values in your child. Ryan runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Ryan writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.
Parenthood comes with many different joys and responsibilities. One of the most important jobs for patents is to keep their kids safe and healthy. Another high priority is to prepare them for the world, and this has many different facets.
One way to prepare kids for the world is to ground them with factual information about all sorts of things like parks, grocery stores, and even driving. Beyond facts though, it’s important to teach kids about how to behave and also to develop a sense of morality. This is no easy task, and can take years and years. So, in this article, we’re exploring how develop moral values in your child.
The Limitations Of Rewards And Punishments In Developing Moral Values
Now, when you think about teaching your kids how to act, it’s natural to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. If your child stays in their bed all night, you might reward them with a fresh stack of pancakes in the morning as a special breakfast treat. On the other hand, if your little one hits another child that is playing with a toy that they want, you might send them to their room or tell them that they can’t have dessert after dinner.
While rewards and punishments can be effective ways of bringing about changes in behavior though, they don’t necessarily teach morality. After all, if your child is just behaving a certain way in order to get a desired outcome, it really doesn’t have a lot to do with knowing right and wrong.
Story Time Can Help Develop Moral Values
A lot of kids enjoy reading with their parents, and this can be an astoundingly good way to introduce them to morality. You might pick out a book about sharing. Then, while you’re reading the book, stop and talk about what is happening. If one page shows a little boy refusing to share his pool float with a little girl in a swimming pool, you can point to the little girl on the page and ask your child how the little girl probably feels.
Do you think that little girl is sad because she isn’t getting a chance to play with the pool float? Do you think it would make her happy if she got a turn? Wouldn’t it be nice if the boy and girl played with float together so they could both be happy?
This sort of interaction will help your child develop empathy and fairness, both of which are key in thinking about morality.
How Fun And Games Help
Kids can learn a lot through playing, and morality is one of them. If you go to the beach, your child might have a chance to build a sand castle with a friend.
Learning to play well and collaborate is a great lesson. Sometimes though, your child or another child will want to knock someone else’s sand castle down. This might be upsetting but it’s also a teachable moment. If something like this happens, you should talk about it a bit later when everyone has calmed down. Maybe point out that it can make someone sad when their sand castle gets knocked down, and that no one likes to be sad.
>> RELATED: 3 Powerful Words Every Child Needs
Games can be a good way to teach kids about playing fair as well. It’s natural for kids to want to win, and some will get very upset or even try to cheat if they see that they are going to lose at a game like Candyland. This is a great opportunity to help them understand that no one wants to play with a sore loser or with someone that cheats. So, they should always try to play nice and fair.
Explaining Your Own Actions
As an adult, your days is packed full of all sorts of decisions and actions. While your child might be too young to understand a lot of the things that you do, there are other things that are worth pausing to explain. If you’re walking out of preschool and you hold the door for someone behind you, it’s worth pointing this out to your child, and explaining that it’s nice to help other people.
If you donate money to a charity as you’re paying for groceries, you can explain that while you like having money yourself, it’s also nice to share it with others that need it.
Kids are sponges, observing and soaking up whatever they see. So, if you want know how to develop good moral values in your child, make sure to start by setting a good example.