40 Things You Can Do to Raise a Moral Child

From the book Teaching Right from Wrong (2001) by Arthur Dobrin, Humanities professor, Hofstra University, and Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, where he has been serving for over 30 years.

Emotions are the Groundwork of Morality
  1. Tune in to your child's feelings.
  2. Talk about how you think others may be feeling.
  3. Comment on your own emotions.
  4. Sing to and hold your child.
  5. Read imaginative stories to your child.
Feelings Need to be Guided by Reason
  1. Give reasons why you approve or disapprove of your child's behavior.
  2. Provide reasons for rules you want your child to follow.
  3. Encourage your child to play with children of various ages.
  4. Engage your child in reflective discussions by asking open-ended questions.
  5. Promote independent thinking.
Self-Respect is a Prerequisite to Acting Morally
  1. Treat your child with respect.
  2. Express interest in your child's activities, projects, and dreams.
  3. Help set goals and encourage your child to see them through.
  4. Praise a task well done.
  5. Give your child emotional and verbal support to stand against the crowd when necessary.
Behavior has Consequences
  1. Be flexible - not arbitrary - in your discipline.
  2. Don't use intimidation, never use ridicule.
  3. The severity of the punishment should be related to the severity of the wrongdoing.
  4. Discipline with explanations.
  5. Criticize in private.
Morality is Learned through Observation and Doing
  1. Provide opportunities for your child to help others.
  2. Give positive verbal and nonverbal feedback for being a good person.
  3. Work with your child in community and volunteer service.
  4. Expect and encourage good deeds from your child.
  5. Help your child keep promises.
Treating All People Fairly is Fundamental to Morality
  1. Examine your own biases.
  2. Provide examples that counteract society's prejudices.
  3. Don't allow biased or bigoted comments to go unchallenged.
  4. Give your child books that show different kinds of people playing, working, and living together.
  5. Talk about differences between people, but talk about them neutrally.
Some Values are More Important Than Others
  1. Tell your child about the people you admire and why.
  2. Live your life as you want your children to lead theirs.
  3. Show the importance of protecting the vulnerable.
  4. Comment on compassionate behavior - let your child know that caring is an important value.
  5. Let your child know what you value and why you value it.
Morality is Social
  1. Supervise your child's television viewing.
  2. Get involved with your child's education.
  3. Make family meals important and regular occasions.
  4. Make time for your child.
  5. Take an interest in the world outside your home.

Psychologists have found that happiness and morality tend to come together.  Arthur Dorbin writes, "Wouldn't the world be a better place if we raised our children who were both moral and happy?  It is possible to do."


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