Moral dilemmas for kids

Written by kyra sheahan
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Moral dilemmas for kids
It can be upsetting for children to face moral dilemmas. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Teaching children how to handle moral dilemmas at an early age gives them a head start in distinguishing right from wrong, preparing them to make better decisions as adults. Parents, teachers and other adult figures can guide children to resolve moral dilemmas by acting as positive role models, being influential and staging role play activities that force children to think about making the best choices. As a parent or other adult in a child's life, think about the types of moral dilemmas that children face so you can be prepared to teach them the skills needed to make the right choices in their lives.

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Family Dilemmas

Children may be faced with moral dilemmas within the family structure. Having a set of divorced parents, for instance, puts children in a position to become split between the mom and dad, which raises a host of potential moral dilemmas. Some of those dilemmas might have to do with honesty. If a parent tells the child not tell the other parent something, this can cause the child to have a difficult time thinking about the best way to handle the situation. Family dilemmas also could exist between siblings. If a child knows that a sibling snuck out of the house but was told not to tell the parents, the child might feel torn about the right thing to do.

Social Dilemmas

A social dilemma has to do with children and their friends. When children begin developing friendships, they may experience moral dilemmas when it comes to socialising with their friends' friends. For example, if a child's friend is having a birthday party, but the friend also is inviting someone from class who the child does not like to hang out with, the child might not want to go to the party. Parents can talk to children about how to make decisions in these instances by asking questions, such as "How would that make your friend feel?" and "Is it a good reason not to go to a party because of not liking one person?"

School Dilemmas

School-related dilemmas are part of a child's academic experience. There are times when a child faces problems in school with a classmate or a particular teacher and is required to decide how to handle a situation in the best way possible. Some moral dilemmas that are school-based include decisions about ditching class if a child doesn't like a teacher, not doing homework because the child would rather play video games and cheating on tests in class.

Personal Behavior

Children can learn about personal behaviour and how to act morally through character development exercises. You can play hypothetical games with children and give them questions like "What would you do if a lady dropped her wallet and walked away because she didn't notice?" and "What would you do if you really wanted a chocolate bar but didn't have any money to pay for it?" Gauge the child's responses and see if the child chooses to stay moralistic in situations that bring moral dilemmas.

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