In the forthcoming book Good Kids, Tough Choices, Dr. Rushworth M. Kidder reports that lying, cheating, insensitivity and lack of empathy are on the rise in children. According to research, less and less children know what it means to do the right thing.
If you're a parent looking for tips on how to raise a compassionate and ethically minded child, this book is a great, practical read. Using ethical parenting early in a child's life helps them to be fair, mindful, connected and compassionate.
Here are Kidder's 10 Tips for Ethical Parenting:
1. Children learn self-steerage from watching us. Modeling how you think and process helps your children to learn how to do the right thing.
2. The language of ethics helps shape thinking and behavior. Use phrases like "be nice" "be fair" and "consider others" to helps shape compassionate behavior.
3. When you think out loud, your children learn your ethics. Let children hear your internal monologue as you move through decisions, thoughts and feelings.
4. Your ethical reasoning elevates their critical thinking skills. Make it clear that your decisions are based on sound ethical reasoning. Show the step by step process of how you reason for your children.
5. When you stretch to do the right things, your children grow more ethically fit. Showing both sides of an argument enables both sides to be experienced. This helps a child learn fairness and compassion.
6. When you admit to your own imperfections, you take the pressure off your children. Showing your children that you can make a mistake, own it and learn from it will help them understand their own humanity.
7. If you keep your ethical aspirations high, children are likely to do the same. Be consistent, conscientious and fair with ethics - and your children will follow suit.
8. You're their number one role model. Children are always watching how you act and behave. You are the mirror to the world for them. Remember that they look up to you as not only a parent but as a teacher.
9. You promote moral courage by modeling it. Let your children see how you move through difficult issues. Talk about the challenges you face, the feelings it provokes and the conflicts that arise.
10. You make them believe in the future. Be enthusiastic and upbeat about the importance of ethics in daily life. In doing so, fairness, sensitivity and mindfulness become more of a reflex than a learned skill.