12 Tips to Build Your Child’s Moral Intelligence

Raising children with good character is one of the major responsibilities of parents. Here are some tips to ensure your child grows up upholding morals, values and virtues.

By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj

12 Tips to Build Your Child’s Moral Intelligence

What is moral intelligence?

In their book, ‘Moral intelligence 2.0’, management consultants Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel define moral intelligence as, ‘the mental capacity to determine how universal human principles should be applied to our values, goals and actions.’ They go on to stress that, ‘Integrity is the hallmark of an intelligent person. When we act with integrity, we harmonize our behaviour to conform to universal human principles… If we lack integrity, by definition, we lack moral intelligence.’

So, you see, in simple words, moral intelligence is nothing but living with integrity. In today’s materialistic world, filled with deteriorating values and double-standards, it is essential that parents inculcate good values in their children and help raise morally intelligent children.

Tips for parents

1. Be clear about your values and ethics: Unless you have a clear idea about the standards that you want to establish in your own life, you cannot expect the same from your child.

2. Practise what you preach: Children learn more from what you do rather than from what you say. Also, if there is a contradiction between what you do and say, children will either be confused or tend to reflect the same contradiction in their deeds and words as well. So, make sure you follow-up what you stress with appropriate actions.

3. Point and tell: Use real-life situations to explain to your child the importance of upholding values. This approach will help provide a better understanding of morals. Therefore, point out to specific instances in day-to-day life wherein good codes of conduct have a direct bearing on men and matters.

4. Provide the right moral environment: Whatever you introduce to your child – story narrations, films, songs, books, and so on – make sure they convey the right message regarding morals and values.

5. Appreciate good behaviour: Make sure to acknowledge, appreciate and reward your child’s good behaviour. Such incentives will serve as encouragement to continue to practise good values.

6. Teach effective problem-solving and conflict-resolution: Often, we tend to make compromises when we face problems and conflicts in life. On those occasions, our ethics and values tend to take a back-seat. Engage in discussions and role-plays with your child, taking challenging situations as examples. They will serve as practice sessions to help your child learn to tackle similar situations in real life without compromising on morals and values.

7. Impart a clear sense of right and wrong: Let your child have a clear picture of what is right and what is not. Any confusion in this will only hinder the development of her moral intelligence.

8. Explain values in the context of relationships: Point out to how not upholding values can affect relationships. Children need to understand that we cannot live all by ourselves but that relationships are important. And, in order to sustain good relations with those around them, they need to live by morals and ethics.

9. Underline morals in family discussions: Whenever possible, try to punctuate family discussions with the importance of good morals. Such incidental learning of values will aid the formation of good character.

10. Highlight the lives of good people: Stressing on the values that some great people such as Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King stood for, will serve as valuable lessons for your child.

11. Encourage self-introspection: Allow your child to ponder and reflect on actions, attitudes and behaviour. It will awaken the conscience and help analyse what is wrong and what is right. It will also encourage self-correction and serve as intrinsic motivation.

12. Inculcate the habit of reading: Moral stories and the classics will help build your child’s character. Therefore, get your child to develop the habit of reading them early on.


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