Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Morality is very black and white (for children)

Like most parents, we are constantly reviewing the difference between good and bad decisions with our son. This usually happens at the dinner table. "Tell me something good about today," I prompt my son. This is followed by the less well-received, "Did anything bad happen today that you want to talk about?"
Pictured: Thor's original hammer of justice.

Sometimes I get answers. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes, it's complicated.

At least, that is what I thought. My son has a different idea about morality: He lives in a world of black and white moral decisions. To him, the right choice should also be the easiest choice to make.

Now, science doesn't have all the answers as to when we are able to make more complex moral choices (ones where there are extenuating circumstances or those in which temptation plays a key role). That seems to be something we learn through experience along the road to adulthood.

So, I will try to keep that in mind the next time my son actually talks about something bad that happened in his school day. I need to remember his point of view, but still teach him to see the bigger picture.

To sum this all up: If you haven't seen this video of the toddler's answer to the famous trolley ethics problem, you should watch it now. It perfectly illustrates how children view morally tough decisions.

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