Surely like mom or dad you have heard your child say on many occasions that something "is not fair". This statement may be related to the fact that they are not allowed to do something they want or have something they want, but as they grow up, this perception can be applied to other more complex situations that not only have to do with them, but also with others.
How does this evolution take place in children's thinking regarding the sense of good and evil, of justice or injustice? We explain what is good and bad or fair or unfair for children according to their age.
Various studies have been conducted that seek to answer this question. The studies of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg about the moral development of the human being, help us to understand a little the answer to this question:
Both concluded that the way in which ideas develop in the child about the concept of good and evil, of right and wrong, it is a complex process that involves cognitive processes, experiences and emotional growth.
Piaget explains this evolution in this way, depending on the age of the child:
1. Children under 4 years old. For them, everything they want or like is good and fair, and everything they don't like or don't want is unfair; little by little as they learn the rules of social coexistence, this idea is transformed to include the "other".
2. Children from 5 to 9 years old (Heteronomous stage). Piaget names this heteronomous stage, since, for children of this age, their behavior is marked by the exterior:
- They accept that all rules are created by authority figures like their parents, teachers, and God.
- They believe that the rules cannot be changed.
- They do not take into account the intention or the reasons that motivated a certain event. Therefore, a large amount of damage, even if done accidentally, is worse than a small amount of damage done deliberately.
- They think that the guilty are always punished, even in the long term.
3. Children from 10 years old (Autonomous stage).At this age, children already realize that:
- There is no absolute good and evil
- Morality - good and bad - depends on intentions, not consequences.
- They realize that the rules are agreements that can be modified and that they can be broken to meet human needs, therefore, their way of thinking is more similar to that of adults.
- At this stage, moral feelings such as compassion or altruism that have to do with considering a concrete situation of the other as a step for the application of the rules.
- The 9-10 year old child develops the ability to perceive the rules from other people's point of view
It is true that this is the natural order that these stages of the child go through, however, the pace and circumstances of each child are different and fundamental for the specific age in which each one achieves it. That is why we can sometimes have very different points of view of a situation between two children of the same age.
To help our children in this process we must:
- Be a good example for them, modeling the desired behaviors at all times.
- Always foster empathy and sensitivity with the other.
- Teach them to see things from various points of view.
- Allow them to question and analyze the rules so that they can follow them out of conviction.
- If your child feels that a situation is “unfair”, help him analyze it and resolve it in the most assertive way possible.
- Help them understand that things are not always "fair" However, we must always keep fighting because they are.
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