Moral development in children


As with the rest of human life, morality and moral education have an outside and an internal. Seen from the exterior, morality provides a way to getting along with others, and from the within it is a means to getting along with oneself. More crudely, moral education reaches once a required condition for interpersonal control and an essential means of self-realisation. Most of us, including philosophers as well as parents and educators, assume these two functions of morality preserve one another: what's good for world is wonderful for our kids, and vice versa. The ambitions that a lot of parents have for his or her children naturally include the development of important moral dispositions. Most parents want to improve children to be persons of a certain kind, people who possess qualities that are desired and praiseworthy, whose personalities are imbued with a solid moral compass. In situations of radical choice we hope our children do the right thing for the right reason, even though confronted with strong inclinations to do normally. Moral development can be involved with the acceptance of morality which brings along certain varieties of behaviour, behaviour and values within an individual. This takes place through moral education. So, moral development is strongly from the other four domains of development that is: physical and motor unit, emotional, interpersonal and cognitive.

As we already know, changes do not occur abruptly but in a systematic and sequential way over a period of time. Moral development requires that the reasoning capacities of the individual become more complicated. Morality is concerned with the amount to which someone conforms to the concept of goodness or rightness. However, what is right or wrong is sometimes dependant on society and do not need to be common i. e. what is considered "good" in a single social group is seen as "wrong" in another one. So, moral values refer to the specific values and the common beliefs that form human connections in each cultural group.

The Development of Moral Reasoning

The moral thinking about young children was detailed by both Piaget and Kohlberg as concrete and oriented toward punishment, respect for power, and the maintenance of existing communal rules and laws and regulations. Piaget (1932) explained moral development as moving from an orientation characterised by heteronomy, or a strong respect for adult authority and guidelines, to a autonomous morality in later childhood in which rules are understood as public constructions created in social relationships of cooperation among peers. Relating to Piaget, the youngster views social rules as everlasting and unchangeable, and conceptualises moral obligation in terms of strict compliance to the guidelines or directions of adult regulators. A morality based on adult constraint gives way in later years as a child to a morality based on mutual value, or assistance. This development is facilitated by the more mature child's cognitive development from egocentrism to perspectivism, and by a equivalent switch in the child's interpersonal relationships from one-way relations of adult constraint to reciprocal relationships of mutual value among peers.

In The Moral Common sense of the kid, Piaget (1932) recognized two types of moral reasoning, each which has another type of understanding of esteem, fairness, and consequence
  1. Heteronomous morality. Originally morality is dependant on unilateral admiration for regulators and the rules they suggest. Before pre-primary schooling, a child adopts ideals and socially approved manners from people in his/her encircling. While he/she builds up an interior conscience, he/she can internalize both moral and immoral principles. He/she is subjected to different learning experiences which can present suitable or unacceptable outcomes.
  2. Autonomous morality. From an autonomous point of view, morality is based on mutual esteem, reciprocity, and equality among peers. Fairness is known as mutually agreed upon co-operation and reciprocal exchange. The kid also learns to comprehend rules regarding to his status and level of cognitive development, as he/she learns to make sense of his own experiences.

Moral education helps him/her to go from egocentric, individualistic and regular judgements to ideas governed by reasoning and fairness. Morality helps the kid to be self-disciplined, considerate and to learn general moral ideals.

For the children, there's a period when you can say "eating in the living room is prohibited" and they will accept it. To them, rules simply can be found. At this stage, they think that rules about conduct or rules about how precisely to play a casino game are utter and can not be changed.

In other words, when a rule is busted, they think that the abuse should be dependant on how much damage is done. By way of example, a child accidentally breaks three mugs. He/she will think that it is worse that intentionally breaking one glass. Within the child's eyeball, the abuse for the three glass offence should be increased. Thus, he/she reasons things out in line with the level of the damage. He/she cannot understand abstract feelings such as willingness to harm.

Similarly, Kohlberg (1981) characterised children's moral reasoning in conditions of a consequence and conformity orientation. Kohlberg thought that Piaget mischaracterised the thinking of the youngster as reflecting a admiration for rules; Kohlberg, rather, found young children's moral thinking as expressing a useful concern with obedience to authority to avoid punishment. Nonetheless, Kohlberg furthermore saw the youngster as susceptible to take the perspective of specialist in moral judgments and also to display a concentrate on the concrete repercussions of moral works and disobedience. Based on analyses of children's reasoning about moral dilemmas, Kohlberg identified moral development as moving through a series of stages, in which morality is defined first in conditions of consequence or behavior to authority, through a predictable level where individuals take the perspective of the legal system and support existing laws and regulations.

Stages of Moral Development

Piaget phases of moral development

According to Piaget, there may be close correspondence between children's cognitive and moral development. Commensurate with his stage theory of cognitive development, Piaget (1932) developed an identical style of moral development

Age 0-5 years: Pre-moral

Little understanding of guidelines or morality

Age 5-10 years: Moral realism

Rigid opinion that guidelines must be obeyed and this actions are judged by their repercussions. Children in this level believe that the naughtier the behaviour, the greater should be the punishment, and also that naughty behavior will always be punished.

Age l O+ years: Moral relativism

Identification that individuals have diverse moral specifications and better versatility in moral understanding, including individuals' intentions as well as implications of behavior. Children in this stage know that guidelines can be destroyed, and that wrong behaviour is not necessarily punished. Further, they believe punishment 'should fit the criminal offenses'.

Piaget argued that video games play an important role in children's moral development as through them, children develop a knowledge of how rules function and where they come from, as well as whether rules can be modified and, if so, with what consequences. He described that children generalise this experience and understanding of the use of rules in other contexts also. He further recognized between the practice of moral rules (moral behavior) and the capability to explain those rules (moral understanding), with both producing individually and in parallel. Corresponding to this theory, by their early on teenagers children have shifted from a view of guidelines as constraints enforced by individuals, to a knowledge that rules are changeable, based on mutual co-operation and respect

Kohlberg's Ideas of Moral Reasoning

Kohlberg described moral reasoning as judgements about right and incorrect. His studies of moral reasoning are based on the use of moral dilemmas, or hypothetical situations where people must make a hard decision. Kohlberg described a subject's degree of moral reasoning from the reasoning used to defend his or her position when faced with a moral issue. He thought this is more important than the actual choice made, since the choices people make in such a problem aren't always obviously and certainly right. He known that development of moral reasoning, seemed to be related to one's years. However, he also driven that the highest degree of moral reasoning was not reached by most of his subjects.

Kohlberg's level of Moral development

Pre-conventional Level:

At this level, the child is responsive to cultural rules and brands of bad and the good, right or wrong, but he interprets the labels in terms of either the physical or pleasure-seeking consequences of action (abuse, reward). The level is divided into the following three periods

Stage 0: Egocentric judgement. The child makes judgements of good on the basis of what he prefers and wants, and bad based on what he does not like or what hurts him. He has no concept of guidelines to follow or conform self-employed of his wish.

Stage 1: The punishment and behavior orientation. The physical consequences of action determine its goodness or badness whatever the human so this means or value of these effects. Avoidance of punishment and unquestioning admiration to electric power are principles in their own right, not in terms of value for an fundamental moral order supported by abuse and specialist.

Stage 2: The instrumental relativist orientation. Right action includes what instrumentally satisfies one's own needs and sometimes the needs of others. Human relations are viewed in terms of the people on the market place. Elements of fairness, reciprocity, and similar sharing can be found, however they are always interpreted in a physical, sensible way.

Conventional Level

At this level, the average person perceives the maintenance of the expectations of his family, group, or country as valuable in its right, no matter immediate and evident consequences. The frame of mind isn't just one of conformity to personal targets and public order, but of loyalty to it, of actively maintaining, promoting, and justifying the order and identifying with the people or group involved in it. The particular level consists of the following two levels

Stage 3: The interpersonal concordance or "good boy-nice woman" orientation. Good behaviour is exactly what pleases others and it is approved by them. There is a lot conformity to stereotypical images of what is normal behaviour. Behaviour is frequently judged by intention. One earns authorization by being "nice".

Stage 4: The "rules and order" orientation. The average person is oriented toward authority, fixed guidelines, and the maintenance of the interpersonal order. Right behavior is composed in doing one's work, showing respect for authority, and retaining the given sociable order for its own sake.

Post-Conventional, Autonomous, or Principled Level.

The specific makes a clear effort to determine moral beliefs and principles that have validity and application apart from the expert of the sets of persons possessing them apart from the individual's own identification with the group. This level gets the two following periods

Stage 5: The social-contract legalistic orientation. Right action tends to be defined in conditions of general individual rights and benchmarks that contain been critically analyzed and agreed upon by the whole society. There is a clear knowing of the relativism of personal principles and thoughts and a matching emphasis after procedural rules for achieving consensus. Aside from what is constitutionally and democratically arranged, right action is a matter of personal beliefs and opinions. The result is an emphasis after the "legal perspective", but with yet another emphasis after the likelihood of changing the law in conditions of rational things to consider of social tool.

Stage 6: The widespread ethical-principle orientation. Right is described by the decision of conscience in accord with self-chosen moral principles that appeal to rational comprehensiveness, universality, and regularity. These key points are abstract and moral; they are not concrete moral guidelines like the Ten Commandments. At heart, these are general guidelines of justice, of the reciprocity and equality of the individual rights, and of respect for the dignity of humans as individual individuals.

On the other side, sociable learning theorists (e. g. Bandura, 1965) have contacted the problem of moral development in an exceedingly different way from both Piaget and Kohlberg. Here, the emphasis is on sociable factors which influence moral behaviour, somewhat than moral understanding or reasoning (cognitive factors). Two types of learning are thought to be particularly influential on moral behaviour
  • direct learning - being rewarded (strengthened) for behaving specifically ways, and punished for behaving using different ways;
  • observational learning - learning by watching other folks being rewarded or punished for behaving using ways, and then behaving in the manner that was compensated.

According to communal learning theory, moral behavior - both children's and people' -will show inconsistency across different situations, depending on rewards or punishments applying in those situations, and will not be linked to particular ages therefore.


Social judgments that involve a moral aspect, however, are more varying and heterogeneous than we once expected. It is because morality is but one element involved in the generation of interpersonal judgments in framework. Such contextual interpersonal judgments entail the application of multiple knowledge systems which may be coordinated in a variety of ways. Section of what enters; into such variant will be the factual assumptions, customs, and social conventions of the individuals culture and modern culture. These factors, however, are themselves reflections of systematic and basic components of social life. Furthermore, the connection between cultural beliefs and norms, and the ones of the individual are reciprocal and interactive somewhat than unidirectional. The procedure of moral development entails the progressive era of regulatory buildings of justice and real human welfare. These non-arbitrary areas of morality form area of the dynamic tension that is out there both within individuals and social systems inasmuch as each must balance and trade off the needs of persons and certain requirements of social composition and company.

Whenever someone begins to go over moral issues, he/she should be aware that children have not reached a complete degree of cognitive development. So, one must not discuss issues that are too complex for the children's age group. Simple and clear terms should be used. Each illustration must be clear to them which is better to connect examples to their everyday routine.

After having set a question, children must be given sufficient time to believe according with their own degree of understanding and reasoning. So far as possible, children should be guided by asking them the right question in simple language. We, people are a model to our children and we must take into consideration our answers should not be biased in order to prevent bafflement and misunderstanding in the children's imagination. We have to always take into consideration their views and make others think about them. Whenever a child is wrong we should right him/her with justification. Only then, we are able to create a healthy and exciting atmosphere once and for all moral development.

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