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Moral Development of 6-12 Year Olds

by Maria Magher

Children go through a great deal of changes between the ages of 6 and 12. They develop a greater awareness of the world, including more complex ideas such as fairness and loyalty. At the same time, they become more independent from their parents, especially as they get closer to the teen years. Children in this age range begin to develop a sense of morality, and parents must work to exert a positive influence to instill the values that are important to them.

Typical Development

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service says that it is hard to pin down certain developmental milestones in morality during this age range since children develop over time and at their own pace. However, there are certain developments that parents can expect to see during this time period. Children in the 6 to 12 age range start to learn how to see things from another person's point of view, which can help them to be more empathetic and to understand why they shouldn't do things like lie, steal or betray their friends. Children in this age range are also better able to endure the frustration they feel over disappointment, which can keep them from lashing out and saying or doing things that might be hurtful to others.

Modeling Behavior

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service says that if children know what the right thing to do is, they will usually do it. Therefore, it is important for parents to model morality to help children in this age range to develop their own sense of morality and to do the right thing. The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service says it is important for adults to act in a caring and respectful manner to other people and to their own children. This will show children in the 6 to 12 age range how to be caring and respectful to others, which can help them understand the right way to treat people in a variety of situations.

Engage in Conversation

Just as important as what parents do is what they say. The Ohio State University Extension says that parents should talk to their children about their values and how their actions reflect those values. Reading books with a moral message can help, as can talking about what you see on television or at the movies. Since children in the 6 to 12 age range are also learning how to understand the world and become more independent, it is also important for parents to talk to them about how to think critically. Not every situation has a clear answer about what is right or wrong. Children need to know how to evaluate the circumstances to determine the right thing to do.

Teach Altruism

Children can learn empathy and develop a strong sense of morality by helping others. The Ohio State University Extension says that volunteering and giving to charity can help children learn responsibility and the value of giving of self. Even assigning chores around the house or asking older children to help younger children can help develop a sense of responsibility and an understanding of the importance of working within a larger group for the good of everyone. Children on the younger end of the age scale can help parents with tasks such as setting the table, or they can tag along on community clean-up efforts. Older kids closer to the teen years can be given more responsibility.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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