Teaching children ethics
Helping Kids Find Their Place In The World. Storyberries offers free children's books and parenting suggestions on how to encourage ethical understanding in kids.
Our children are growing in a complex society where immediacy, disposable consumption and individualism often prevail. As recent world events have shown, ethical awareness may be increasingly important to our children as they negotiate a world impacted by climate change and unequal opportunities.
Ethics is defined as the part of philosophy that deals with our morals and obligations: a framework that allows for better coexistence between human beings and the world around us. Ethical education is designed to encourage critical, independent thinking and to give value to the creative potential this offers. It helps us to develop the skills we might need to make important decisions; either alone, or when working with others.
Children can be given opportunities to explore their understanding of ethics through a variety of themes such as social responsibility, tolerance, respect for human dignity, and justice. In this way they begin to know how to distinguish good from bad, and the just from the unjust. They begin to internalise a set of moral patterns, often mirroring those of their parents, their school and their community. Over time, their moral framework is able to become nuanced and take into account a wide range of contributing factors.
Storyberries offers free books and suggestions for encouraging ethical understanding in kids.
Setting a good moral exampleChildren learn by modeling, so show them when you make ethical decisions, and explain your thought processes behind your decision. Ask them what they would have done.
Knowing what your beliefs are and sharing themIt’s really good to spend time thinking about your own ethical values, and to share them frequently with your child. Create an encouraging space in the conversation for your child to express their own ideas too.
Making positive use of teaching momentsAllow issues that arise naturally in the course of the day to become stepping stones for learning
Using discipline wiselyTeaching in a way that values lessons rather than punishment, so children learn and grow a healthy moral conscience that comes from within.
Highlighting and reinforcing your family’s moral values at homeSharing ethical values helps them to become an integral part of your children’s lives.
Encouraging kids to be reflectiveGive children opportunities to see how their behaviour affects others – focusing especially on the positives!
Strengthening ethical conductWhen your child is doing well or doing a good deed, acknowledge it, by mentioning what they did well and why you appreciate it.
Practicing good deeds day-by-dayChildren learn to be ethical by doing good deeds. It helps them to feel the positive effect their acts have on the recipient. This is best accomplished if parents emphasise the benefits their ethical choices have on themselves and others.
Incorporating the golden ruleTreat other people with the concern and kindness you would like them to show to you. Remembering this helps us to think about how our own behaviour has consequences for others.
My Best Friend CrowRusty and her Grandma enjoy going to the park to feed the birds. Rusty feels sad when her Grandma is kind to the pigeons but not the crows. A great story for exploring ideas about ethics and fairness.
Pepper and Carrot Comic – Episode 23Pepper is offered outlandish wealth by the magical genie. Will it lead to true happiness? Does she accept the offer? Find out what Pepper decides. A super story to stimulate discussions around ethics.
Dorothy and the Wizard in OzAn exciting adventure story for older kids that provides opportunities to discuss legitimate and non-legitimate uses of power, and the importance of having a moral conscience.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com