Most people understand school to be a place of bolstering academic achievements and intellectual prowess. It is where students learn about various subjects, develop problem-solving and critical skills, and acquire the knowledge needed to set them up for future success. However, many overlook the role schools play in helping a child learn about morality. Moral education is the process of teaching children right from wrong, while instilling values—like respect and empathy—that shape their character.
Through moral education, children begin to gain a sense of responsibility and self-awareness. With this understanding, children are less likely to engage in negative behaviors (i.e., lying, cheating, and bullying); many of which would not only pose problems in a school environment, but also affect children’s future relationships and well-being. Some schools might have formal instruction or curriculum around teaching kids about morals, but the majority of schools educate through activities and examples set by teachers and staff. It is also the parent’s responsibility to reinforce these lessons at home to raise kind and empathetic children.
How to teach children about morals
Starting this form of education earlier is important because it helps lay the foundation for a child’s ethical development. Children’s early experiences shape the way they perceive and interact with the world, which can have a significant impact on their future growth. In their first years of life, children are mainly observant creatures—taking in everything around them. They learn by observation, heavily influenced by what they see from their caregivers and environment. As such, they are more likely to adopt values and behaviors they see others doing. So, to make sure you are raising children on the right path, here are a few ways to teach children about morals:
- Lead by example: As mentioned earlier, leading by example is one of the most effective ways to teach children about morals. Children are highly impressionable—especially in their earlier years. If they see you behaving a certain way, then they are more likely to replicate that behavior when put in a similar position. For instance, if someone cuts in front of you in the grocery line. You can respond in two ways: politely (where you calmly inform the person you were already in line) or angrily (where you confront the person with a raised voice). The former demonstrates to your child the importance of respect and patience, whereas the latter teaches your child to react negatively and aggressively. Thus, it is important for parents to be aware of their actions because you are always setting an example and being a model for your child.
- Tell stories: Whether it be fictional or based on real-life events, stories can be a powerful and effective way to teach children about morals. They help engage children’s imaginations, which can make the lessons they learn interactive and in turn, more memorable and impactful. By using characters to act out a scenario, children are able to better understand each role and empathize with the different perspectives and experiences.
- Show them educational TV programs: TV tends to get a bad rap as mindless entertainment for children; yet, it is worthwhile to mention that certain forms of children’s programming can be beneficial. Children’s TV shows often incorporate underlying themes and messages that become clear towards the end of an episode and help impart lessons onto children. From teaching children how to deal with their emotions properly to how to approach situations where they are being treated unfairly, these shows can be an additional educational tool that parents and teachers can utilize. TV shows to include in your child’s watchlist include (but are not limited to): Arthur, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Paw Patrol, etc.
- Introduce them to community service: Participating in community service can impart valuable lessons to children. Volunteering requires taking time out of one’s day to help others without the premise of receiving something in return. Taking your child out to volunteer on a consistent basis can help turn it into a routine for them; and over time, they will be able to witness the positive impact they had on their community as a result of their hard work.
- Have a discussion with your child: Part of being a parent is building rapport with your child and making sure they know that they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Keep both lines of communication open; doing so allows your child to express their thoughts and feelings freely without fear of judgment or punishment, while also letting them be open to your support, advice, and guidance. When that trust is established, your child is more likely to listen to your words and take them to heart.
- Empathy: Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. People who are empathetic are able to put themselves in another person’s shoes, allowing them to connect with others at a deeper level.
- Respect: Respect is something that is highly-esteemed in many cultures—especially towards elders—as it demonstrates consideration and appreciation for others. Instilling the value of respect in children can help them grow to be tolerant and accepting of others.
- Responsibility: This is a value that is emphasized in the school setting, as students are expected to know how to take ownership of their actions and understand the consequences. It enables children to be accountable for their behavior and take charge of their lives.
- Honesty: Honesty is a key foundational value for trust and integrity, which are important qualities in interpersonal relationships—whether those be personal or professional. It shows people that you are true to your word, making it easier for people to rely and depend on you.
- Kindness: “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” This may be a cliché, but it is an important adage nonetheless. People are drawn towards others who are kind, making it easier to form those positive friendships and relationships. One way to start putting this value into practice is to perform small acts of kindness. Whether it is giving someone a compliment or donating to a charity, kindness can take many different forms.
How Student Hires Can Help
We here at Student Hires are dedicated to each student’s academic and personal development. Establishing a strong moral foundation will help children as they progress through their lives. Each individual is on their own path and has different needs, so we offer a variety of opportunities when it comes to academic and professional success. In addition to our student programs, we also have online resources to help students and their families succeed. Our blog offers news stories, academic guidance, as well as lifestyle tips.
Parents all have different wants and wishes for their children, but a commonality between all parents is the desire to raise children with strong morals. Parents understand the importance of positive values in shaping children and setting them up for success. They are the ones modeling good examples for children, as children model their actions and behaviors after their parents.