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Moral and ethical behavior of a child and a teenage define how they will relate with the society in the future. Therefore, good morals promise humane society in the future full of goodness, humility, respect and peace. Despite the fact that many people would argue that they are able to know a moral child or teenager when they see one, there no consensuses as to what ethics and morality really means. However, instilling the correct moral and ethical behavior in children and teenagers is the most challenging role facing the parents today. This will go a long way in making the world a safe place for human coexistence. Children and teenagers at different stages have different approaches of incorporating these ethics. However, there three basic methods that can be used in shaping the moral behavior in children and the teenagers. The following paper shall discuss on the healthy and effective methods that can be used in shaping ethics and moral behavior in children and teenagers and different ways of evaluating how effective these methods are.
Importance of Instilling Good Morals and Ethics in Children and Teenagers
Children and teenagers usually think in an abstract manner and can be more impulsive as compared to adults. This often affects their moral and ethical development, especially if they experience the indestructible feelings that are associated with children and teenagers. Welton (2011) contends that today’s children spend most of their time before TV sets watching programs with violent languages while others spend their time playing computer games or playing with their toys. On the same note, parents to today’s kids spend most their time at their work place only leaving their children under the care of day care or house helps. As a result, children develop bad morals from what they see and hear while they are unattended to by the parents. On their part, parents fail to notice any signs of bad ethics or moral in their sons and daughters, leaving this duty to the house helps who end up doing nothing about it. What these parents fail to understand is that moral and ethical character is of great importance to our society. It is important for children to be morally upright because:
First, it helps in preparing children for their future lives. It is wise for a parent to instill moral values in children as a way of making them competent in the world. For example, adults are expected to be diligent at work places. A child who watches TV on daily basis is likely to grow lazy and this is unacceptable virtue at work place. It is imperative to understand that this behavior not only affects individual children, but an entire generation because these children are part of the coming generations.
Second, ethics help the children to cooperate with others and know how to establish peaceful co-existence with others. A morally upright kid will be able to respect all rules and regulations thus, will be able to tolerate others and newer environment thus promoting cooperation. Therefore, ethics and morality helps the children and the adolescents to build up interpersonal relations and to cultivate social morality or responsibility in both children and the teenagers.
Third, ethics also help the children and adolescents to strengthen their moral conscience. Children and teenagers with good morals or ethics are likely to strengthen their moral conscience. Strong moral conscience is the type of character that is able to differentiate between rights and wrongs, good and bad. This type of children is also able to make right decisions at all points of their life.
Aspects of Morality and Ethnical Functioning
These are several ways through which parents can determine whether their children are ethical or not. These are some of the characteristics that determine the level of morality or ethics in children or teenagers. These traits include: empathy is the ability to feel, understand and acre about others. Altruism is the virtue of being self-less and generous to others. Social orientation is the art of creating children or teenagers into people who value those who are around them and what is going on around them. Self-control is the ability to decide on what should happen in one’s life or living according to the set principle. Compliance to rules is the ability to respect existing principle or matching with the set principle of a particular group. Self-esteem is the developing of self-worth or the ability to value oneself.
General Approaches of Instilling Morality and Ethics in Children and Teenagers
Different parents across the world use different methods to instill morals and ethics in their children. Therefore, there are no specific methods that parents are expected to use in this activity. However, these are among the major healthy and safe approaches that most parents use in shaping of moral and ethical behavior in children and the teenagers.
Response to Consequences
This is the most common method used by most parents in infusing of moral behavior in children and teenagers. In this type of approach, the parent awards the child depending on the child’s action. For example, when a child does something wrong or unacceptable actions that defies the set rules of morality or ethics, the parent retaliates by punishing the child. The punishment is administered in an attempt to instill fear into the children who may disobey the law (Pfeiffer, 2005). Therefore, an authority sets rules and to respected by a child. The authority institutes fear in the child in the name of punishment that causes pain.
There are different forms of punishment like time out, spanking. However, these methods of punishment have effects over the children. For example, time-out demoralizes the self-esteem of a child. Moreover, this type of approach also makes other children to develop empathy towards their siblings. The children may see their parents as unfair thus; they fail to understand the moral lesson behind the punishment. The other side of response to consequence is reward. This is where the parent rewards the child for doing what is morally or ethically acceptable. The child follows the rule because he/she expects to benefit after following the rules. Most parents believe that this approach will boost their children’s self-esteem and make them to desire to do what is always right. However, ethical critics say that this is not the healthiest method of shaping children morals because when there are no presents or rewards, the child will stop being morally upright. Thus, it is not the best way of instilling morals.
Demonstration/ Leading by Example
Demonstration has been highly rated as the best way of inculcating moral values and ethics in the children and the teenagers. Children and teenagers today try to imitate their parents on what they are doing and those who have internalized the moral behaviors taught to them find it hypocritical when their parents or educators fail to stick on the moral lessons taught to them (Welton, 2011). In this system of education, the children and adults are expected to live by the frame of laws set. Today, most teenagers think that the adults including their parents as hypocrites. This is because their parents or guardians advise them to do something yet they do not do what they are saying. Demonstration means that the parents should lead their children by example.
Borba (2002) argues that children may also learn from their friends or other figures in the society. The parents are expected to be the role models to their children. The children choose to do what their parents do. They only obey when their parents obey and defy when their parents defy. However, parents have been unable to keep up with the standards; thus, they have ended up confusing their children about the question of morality. For example, a parent tells the child that it is wrong to disregard a needy person. Then, next time that parent moves with the child in the town during weekend shopping, he/she ignores the beggars on the streets or talks to them with much cruelty. This shall confuse the child completely. Therefore, it is important that parents should do what they expect their children to do. This approach is the best though, the parents have failed morality and thus, their children too shall be forced to fail morality. Consequently, the parents are responsible of the unethical behaviors of their sons and daughters in the society today.
This is a psychological relationship between parents/caregivers and children during earlier stages of development. Successful and secure attachment results from successful communication between the parents and children. This relationship can be through verbal, direct speeches, or non-verbal communication. Psychologists believe that this relationship provides security, forms the babies’ brains, inspires self-esteem and helps individuals to relate well with others. The type of attachment one has with the parents always defines the way that individual shall interact with others in the society. Secure attachment makes the child feel warm, creative, confident, be able to handle all sorts of depression, comfortable and optimistic about the events around him/her. However, insecure attachment makes the child hopeless, pessimistic, careless, low self-esteem and angry at all time or intolerant of others.
This type of children is more likely to develop health complications and is at time unfit in the society. Their morals are always unacceptable and they may develop antisocial behaviors. Therefore, it is very important that parents should be able to provide their children with all emotional attachment that they need when they are young, and the children shall grow up as morally upright adults (Borba, 2002). However, this is not the only way that parents may use if shaping morality and ethics in children, despite the fact that it is the safest and the healthiest way of shaping morality in children and teenagers.
It is the role of parents, teachers, neighbor, elderly relatives and society at large to shape the morals and the ethics of the children and the teenagers today. Form the society, the children and teenagers need good example, from the parents, and they need emotional attachment and corrections when they go wrong. Media is evading the ethics of the children and corrupted their ways of life. Therefore, it is the responsibility of parents to save their children from the jaws of media and protect their innocent brains from any form of violence. Moreover, the parents have the responsibility of molding the conscience within their children and creating safe values in their children’s heart. It is now time that the parents turned work to work and home to home. The parents need to balance their responsibility between the two in order to save humanity. Thus, the society at large has the responsibility of incorporating these values in children, if it dreams of tomorrow.