Monday, June 15, 2009

Building Moral IntelligenceWe were visiting our friends this weekend, and while I was talking to moms and playing with kids, our husbands got into debate about whether kids are "good or bad" by nature. My husband, forever an idealist, is of an opinion that children are essentially good, and we just need to bring this good in them out. However, in my mind children are not born with a moral compass, and it's up to us, adults, to give it to them. I think that in modern societies a lot of emphasis is placed on academic intelligence, athletic skills, even etiquette, but we don't focus enough on building moral intelligence of our children. That's why I found the book I am reading now (click on the image in the post) very interesting and full of good advice (it's also full of chilling stories proving how our innocent children become psychopathic killers).  What I like about this book is that it doesn't make a premise that religious education is a must to raise morally intelligent children. We are not a religious family, nevertheless we care about moral values every bit as much as my religious friends. I am going to cover highlights of this book in a series of posts and talk about advice that is applicable to young children (some of the techniques and discussions would be way over the head of preschoolers), but I strongly recommend reading this book by yourself and seeing what works for you and your family.

The seven crucial values that authors identifies are:

  • Empathy - identifying with and feeling other people's concerns

  • Conscience - knowing the right and decent way to act and acting that way

  • Self-control - Regulating your thoughts and actions so that you stop any pressures from within or from outside and act the way you know and feel is right

  • Respect - Showing you value others by treating them in a courteous and considerate way

  • Kindness - Demonstrating concern about welfare and feeling of others

  • Tolerance - Respecting the dignity and rights of all persons, even those whose beliefs an behaviors differ from our own

  • Fairness - Choosing to be open-minded and to act in a just way.


According to an author, the first three virtues form the foundation of our children' moral intelligence. The focus of this week will be on empathy. Stay tuned :)

5 comments:

Kristiana said...

interesting can't wait to hear more

Christy said...

I'll have to check out this book.

Roo said...

This sounds so interesting. We are not religious either and so I am always trying to find ways to build character in my children. I have seen character book lists that tell books to read and discuss with your children. I have not tried that option yet. My kids go to a charter school and they have character education in the curriculum so it will be interesting to see how much the children actually internalize. I am going to check out this book!

Three Steps to Building Empathy « Teaching Young Children said...

[...] writing about, it looks like the whole month of June will be empathy month I am returning today to Building Moral Intelligence book and covering three steps to building empathy. Here is an excerpt from the book: Because the [...]

Sarah said...

I sort of agree with both you and your husband. From an evolutionary standpoint, we must have had some sense of right from wrong, good from bad- from birth. If we didn't, we never would have made it this far. :)

That being said, we now live in a time where there is constant stress and I don't think that leads people to develop properly. When higher values are placed on "things" than on life (from plants to animals), much of our entertainment glorifies being bad, when the focus shifted from "us" to "me first", that's where the parents really have to step in. I used to pride myself on being a moral person, but I was sorely lacking in empathy. My emotional intelligence was zero. I've been working on it for a couple of years, but it doesn't come naturally. I'll definitely be checking our library for this book.