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Healthy Ways to Shape Moral & Ethical Behaviors in Children & Teens

by Eliza Martinez, studioD

Most parents want to raise a child who knows right from wrong, is responsible, cares for others, is empathetic and is someone who others want to be around. Instilling such values in your children is an ongoing process and isn't a lesson you can teach your child one night over dinner. Helping your child to be moral and ethical in a healthful manner is the most effective way to ensure that you raise a child you'll be proud of.


Children learn by observing the world around them. If you display good ethics and morals, chances are your child or teen will too. For example, if you are respectful and compassionate to your neighbors, the cashier at the grocery store and your child's teacher, he is more likely to do the same, according to Psychologytoday.com. On the other hand, if you let your anger loose when your meal at a restaurant is messed up, your child will probably act the same when he's angry with someone.

Find Supportive Adults

Whether its a Scout troop leader, a coach or a teacher, surrounding your child with moral and ethical people is a good way to instill those practices in him. Having a variety of other adults in his life covers the bases and helps expose your child to moral and ethical circumstance and decisions that you can't, according to Psychologytoday.com. Before your child joins a sports team or a Scout group, talk to the leader to see whether she is someone your child will benefit from being around.


Part of teaching your child or teen to be moral and ethical is to enforce the rules with appropriate consequences to help him learn. Set consistent guidelines with punishments that match. If they occur each time a rule is broken, your child will learn not to engage in unethical or immoral behavior. For example, if your teen is caught shoplifting with her friends, remove the privilege of spending time with them for an extended period. If your child boasts to an extreme after winning a board game, don't play games with him for a few days.

Teachable Moments

Sometimes events occur that give you the opportunity to instill moral and ethical behavior in your child. For example, maybe you forgot to pay for a pack of soda that was on the bottom of your cart and you realize it once you've gotten to the car. It might be easier to just pack it in the trunk and head home, but that's not teaching your child the lesson you want him to learn. Instead, taking the soda back into the store and paying for it helps your child learn how to be the moral and ethical person you know he can be.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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